Estate planning is a process that allows you to secure your assets not just for yourself but for your future generations. If you die without a will, the state decides who gets your assets, and it may not be according to your wish. Currently, only less than half the population of the US have gone through estate planning and had a will or a trust set up, even though this is an essential part of life.
Therefore, it is good to start planning instead of waiting when you’re old and frail. Hire an estate planning attorney if you feel nervous or worried about where to start. The legal system only works best when you know how to file paperwork accurately on time. A process as delicate as setting up your will should get handled by a seasoned professional.
To begin, here are some advantages of hiring an estate planning attorney to do your bidding.
1. You Get Expert Guidance
Before you start naming all your family members on one paper, you need to know the basics of estate planning to ensure you get the details right. An estate planning attorney will tell you how to name your beneficiaries, what order their names should be, and how to set up trust accounts. You will also learn which part of your will is weak and what needs to get backed up by a legal claim. For instance, if you are an owner of a vast establishment, you need to show proof of ownership.
An attorney will also help you determine the total value of your assets and tell you how you should proceed with the distribution. You may also need to know the IRS limits for sending gifts like cash through a will. This guidance is valuable and informs you of the best way to go about your last wish without messing up.
2. Help Lower Estate Taxes
Generally, if you have valuables that are more than $11 million in worth, your family will have to pay 18% to 40% of the total value.
Your family will need to deal with estate taxes after you pass away since these are mandatory payments for your assets. However, an estate planning attorney can help you set adequate measures to reduce these taxes.
For example, your attorney may advise you to donate to a charitable organization while you’re alive. This reduces some of the financial sizes of the estate and thereby reduces the overall estate tax since philanthropic contributions cannot get taxed. You may also set up an irrevocable life insurance trust and shift the ownership to a beneficiary. Since you no longer own the insurance, it cannot get included in your assets, reducing the overall estate tax your family needs to pay.
Most estate planning attorneys know other more lucrative legal measures to help you bypass or minimize the estate taxes without damaging the total value of your assets.
3. Shorter Probate Process
A probate process is a legal method that distributes a person’s assets after they die. So whether you have a will or not, your family will need to go through this process. However, the only difference is having a will makes the probate period shorter.
The court needs legal documentation to prove the ownership of the assets, the beneficiaries involved, and the total cost of assets.
A will takes care of appointing a representative, has your last testament recorded, details on every asset, and informs the court of the applicable estate taxes. An estate attorney can quickly fast-track the verification process and let your family get their due right without much hassle. If your attorney advises you to set up a trust fund instead of writing a will, there is no probate process on trust funds following your death.
4. Ensure Legal Compliance
You cannot freestyle a will; instead, you need to follow the state-given laws on writing one. This includes having a witness watch you sign and legitimate your will. Certain states like Georgia prefer a self-proving will. These are well-structured documents, signed, witnessed, and have details about your assets. On the other hand, are weak testaments called holographic wills.
Holographic wills such as those written in distress with no expert witness, signature, or details can get rejected in several states, including Alabama, Missouri, and Massachusetts. A few states, such as California and Michigan, also require that your will should be dated, or else it may not get verified. Therefore, an estate planning attorney is pivotal in providing you with the details on the state laws, so you don’t submit an incomplete will.
5. Experience in Dealing with Complex Situations
Not every will writing process is linear. You may be going through a family situation that is both complex and needs immediate addressing before you can draft a will. For instance, you may be separated from your partner but not divorced and may need to know how to mention that on paper. In another case, you may want to set up dual wills, but you don’t know state regulations or the way you should add details.
Maybe there is a property dispute and a lack of proof of ownership. While these are a handful of examples, they are not uncommon complex family situations. Without adequate legal knowledge, you may not know how to draft a will or set up a trust fund that is both valid and authentic to distribute your assets. However, most estate planning attorneys are not strangers to complicated situations. These professionals can help you understand your situation, suggest a possible legal route, and help you out of a challenging circumstance.
When submitting a will or setting up a trust fund, you want to get the process right. This ensures that your assets fall in the right hands, and you get a chance to settle your affairs before you pass away. The method of drafting a will is tedious. You need to provide several details, may even need to date your document and prove the validity of your document. It would help if you worked with a lawyer to ensure your attempt to leave a treatment doesn’t go futile.
Seasoned estate planning attorneys will give you the expert guidance you need when you start. These professionals will make sure your document follows all passed state laws, can stand in court, and provide tax reduction benefits to your family. Estate planning attorneys can also deal with any challenge you throw their way, including a complex family system and a conflict of interest. So, find an expert attorney today and begin planning for your future.