Why Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning can be a challenging process. It's a necessary step if you prefer to control your assets and determine how they're distributed in your absence. If you've ever scrambled to help your aging parents get their financial affairs in order, you understand what can happen if you delay the inevitable.
You struggle to locate and gather relevant financial documents. If your parents have memory issues, you worry that you might be missing something important. You encounter added stress when you feel pressured by a real or imagined deadline. That's why it's a prudent idea to contact a financial planning attorney before the timing becomes crucial.
Some families delay estate planning because of the personal and emotional challenges. The process forces you to deal with family issues, financial concerns, and end-of-life matters you might not want to think about. When you have substantial assets or a complicated family structure, planning efforts require time, energy and critical decision-making. Financial planning attorneys understand the difficulties. They use their training, knowledge, and expertise to make the estate planning process as simple as possible.
Preserving Your Estate
Your estate planning lawyer can implement safeguards to reduce the estate taxes that can consume your savings and assets. Attorneys use a variety of financial instruments and procedures to accomplish this goal.
- Charitable trusts and donations
- Marital asset transfers
- Lifetime gifts to relatives
- Irrevocable trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Life insurance
Wills and Trusts
Wills are traditional estate planning tools that ensure your assets are distributed according to your preferences. Estate planning attorneys work with you to document your wishes. They formalize them using the estate planning instruments, guidelines, and procedures compatible with state laws.
- A will is a formal record of your instructions for distributing your assets after your death. For young families, they can designate a hierarchy of childcare if both parents die. They simplify the asset distribution process and allow your beneficiaries to avoid most probate court procedures. As wills are public records in many jurisdictions, they're not private.
- Living trusts appoint a trustee to control your assets if you become incapable of doing it yourself. It's similar to a will in that it provides inheritance instructions for asset distribution after your death. Trusts aren't publicly available records, so you keep your financial information private.
When you're young or even middle-aged, you might not think about yourself when you consider end-of-life issues. No matter how old you are, it's important to document your treatment requirements so you can avoid extreme treatment measures you don't want. Catastrophic accidents, serious illnesses, and end-of-life issues occur at all ages. If you have strong concerns about life support, resuscitation, or other medical procedures, an estate planning attorney can formalize your wishes.
- Advanced directives, living wills, and instruction directives help you designate the treatment you want or prefer not to have should you become unable to speak on your own behalf. Your estate planning attorney prepares a carefully worded document explaining your preferences for and against extreme treatment measures, resuscitation, and other medical procedures.
- Health care power of attorneys and health care proxies grant formal healthcare decision-making control to the person you designate. The person holding your power of attorney receives instructions detailing your wishes. They make treatment decisions on your behalf when you are unable to speak up for yourself.
Contact a Financial Planning Attorney
When you spend a lifetime building assets to pass on to your family, financial planning is the next important step. Whatever your age, marital status, parental status, or financial situation, a financial planning attorney can work out a personalized strategy that accomplishes your financial preferences.