When planning out how your estate should be handled after you pass on, it’s important to make sure your plans are put together in the most effective, efficient way possible. Estate plans have many moving parts, and the strategies you incorporate into your plan will depend greatly on the nature of your property and assets.
An estate planning lawyer helps with every part of your estate planning process.
Designing Your Overall Estate Plan
One of the first things an estate planning attorney does is help you design the overall shape and scope of your estate plan. They’ll help you select the documents and strategies that would best fit the types of assets and wealth in your estate.
This is important because each person’s estate is different. What would make sense for one estate plan wouldn’t necessarily work for another. For instance, if the total worth of your estate is below the estate tax exemption limit, then it wouldn’t make sense to implement strategies designed to avoid those taxes.
That said, there are some strategies and documents that are absolutely vital to every estate plan. Knowing what those are is part of what an estate planning attorney does.
Upon determining the right strategies to implement in your estate plan, your attorney will assist with preparing the necessary documents. Some of the documents you might need in your estate plan include the following:
- Last will and testament
- Living will
- Trust documents
- Financial power of attorney
- A medical power of attorney
Each document has its own nuances to be aware of, and they all need to be drafted in a way that ensures they accomplish exactly what they’re supposed to, whether that’s dodging probate, avoiding estate taxes, or qualifying for specific benefits. Your attorney will help you through the process of drafting these documents to make sure they achieve what you need them to.
Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, but in order to be effective, they need to be very carefully constructed. Your estate planning attorney will advise you on selecting the type of trust that would best benefit your estate and construct it in a way that offers the best advantages possible.
Some types of trusts your estate planning attorney can help you put together include:
- Revocable living trusts for avoiding probate
- Irrevocable trusts to reduce your estate’s tax exposure
- Generation-skipping trusts to provide the best possible benefits to your descendants
- Medicaid trusts to qualify for benefits for your beneficiaries
- Life insurance trusts to manage your life insurance accounts
Not everyone will benefit from all of these trust types, so it’s important to choose the right trust for your estate plan, which means an attorney should be an important part of your planning.
Finally, an estate planning attorney will know all the ins and outs of handling your estate. They’ll provide legal advice on what to do, how to choose executors or trustees for the various components of your estate plan, and so forth. Often, a bit of legal advice is all that separates an effective estate plan from an ineffective one.
For assistance with your estate plan, contact one of our attorneys at Hart David Carson LLP to get started.