Estate planning is critical for anyone who wants to ensure their loved ones are provided for in the event of their passing. Without proper estate planning, it can be difficult and costly to sort out an individual’s affairs after death. Having a qualified estate planning lawyer on your side helps smooth the process and make sure everything goes as intended.
Most people think estate planning is simply about writing a will, but many more important considerations require expert assistance. Hiring an estate planning lawyer from Easler Law provides several advantages. Here are 7 reasons why you need an estate planning lawyer:
1. Creating an Estate Plan
Estate planning lawyers are experienced in creating comprehensive estate plans that allow you to protect your financial legacy. They also help ensure that your wishes are followed and that the right documents are filed. The main reason to hire a lawyer is to help you create a comprehensive plan that takes into account all of your assets and liabilities.
2. Avoiding Probate
One of the biggest benefits of having an estate planning lawyer is avoiding probate court. Probate is time-consuming and expensive, requiring a court to appoint someone to handle your financial affairs after you pass away. An experienced lawyer can help you create legal tools that make your assets transferable outsides of probate courts, such as trusts or designated beneficiaries. In most cases, it is possible to avoid probate altogether, saving your family from additional stress and grief.
3. Minimizing Tax Liabilities
Estate planning lawyers are skilled in estate tax laws and can help you minimize your tax liabilities. They will look at your current financial situation and create a plan of action that ensures the lowest possible taxes are paid when distributing assets to heirs. This is especially important if the estate is large or complex. If you do not have an estate planning lawyer, you could be paying much more in taxes than necessary. The best way to ensure your heirs receive the most money possible is to consult a qualified lawyer.
4. Protecting Assets from Creditors and Lawsuits
Estate planning lawyers can also help protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits. When a person passes away, their estate may become the target of legal action. A good lawyer will create an asset protection plan that shields your assets from potential creditors or lawsuits. This way, you can rest assured knowing that your heirs will receive everything they are entitled to.
5. Creating Trusts
Trusts are legal documents that allow you to give assets to another person or entity while still retaining control over the asset. Estate planning lawyers can help you create trusts, from providing for a child’s college education to protecting your business interests. Trusts are especially important in estate plans, as they provide a way to pass on assets without going through probate court.
6. Ensuring that Your Wishes are Followed
A good estate planning lawyer will make sure that your wishes are followed. This is especially important in cases where the estate plan needs to be modified due to changes in circumstances or life events. An experienced lawyer can help you review and revise your plan when needed, ensuring that it still reflects your wishes and intentions.
For example, if you have a young child who is not yet old enough to handle the inheritance, an estate planning lawyer can help you create a trust that will care for the child until adulthood. Additionally, if circumstances change in your family due to marriage or divorce, an estate planning attorney can make sure that your plan is still valid and legally binding.
7. Preparing for Incapacity and Death
When you create an estate plan, it is important to make sure that your wishes will be followed in the event of incapacity or death. An experienced lawyer can help you draft legal documents such as living wills and powers of attorney that ensure your wishes are honored. This is especially important if you have minor children whom you wish to provide for in the event of your death. With their help, you can create a comprehensive plan that takes into account all of your assets and liabilities to ensure that everything is taken care of in the best possible way.
How to Find a Reliable Estate Planning Lawyer
Today, finding an experienced and reliable estate planning lawyer is easier than ever. Here are some tips to help you find the right one for your needs:
Check Estate Planning Attorney Certifications
Although an estate planning attorney doesn’t need to hold additional certifications to operate, some opt to do so. Make sure to check an attorney’s credentials before hiring them, and ensure that they are certified in estate planning if this is what you require. Here are some of the certifications that may be helpful for estate planning attorneys:
- Accredited Estate Planner (AEP): The accredited estate planner title is given by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils to qualified lawyers, CPAs, chartered life underwriters, and other specific financial experts. The minimum requirements are five years of estate planning experience, two graduate-level courses, and 30 hours of continuing education, at least half of which must be in estate planning every 24 months.
- Chartered Trust and Estate Planner (CTEP): This designation is granted by the American Academy of Financial Management. A degree in finance, taxation, accounting, financial services, or law is necessary. The conclusion of at least five related courses, passing a certification training course, and yearly continuing education are additional requirements.
- Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA): The certified trust and financial adviser (CTFA) title are given to people who complete certain requirements by the American Bankers Association and the Institute of Certified Bankers. A letter of recommendation, a minimum of three years of wealth management experience, the successful completion of at least one recognized wealth management training program, and 45 hours of continuing education every three years are all requirements.
Ask for References
The best way to find a reliable estate planning lawyer is to talk with friends and family who have established their own estate plans. Ask for personal references and for feedback on their experiences with the attorney. This can help you narrow your search and select an attorney recommended by someone you trust.
Research Online Reviews
Online reviews can be a great source of information when searching for an estate planning attorney. Look for attorneys that have received numerous positive reviews from clients and pay attention to any negative feedback, as this can help you find potential red flags. Be careful to research reviews on multiple sites to get an overall picture of the attorney’s performance.
Understand Each Attorney’s Fees
Before making a final decision, it is important to understand each estate planning lawyer’s fees. Ask for a breakdown of the cost to ensure that you are aware of all fees upfront. The fee structure should be clear and easy to understand, with no hidden costs or surprises. Once you understand the fees associated with each option, you can make an informed decision on which attorney to hire.
Finding the right estate planning lawyer can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of research and preparation, you can find the perfect fit for your needs. When selecting an attorney, check their credentials and online reviews. Additionally, ask for references from people you trust and understand the fee structure before making your decision. With these tips in mind, you can ensure that you get the best possible estate planning advice and protection for yourself and your family.