The Value of Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
Despite the claims of online legal sites, creating estate planning documents is a complex process and it is important that they accurately reflect your wishes and are executed appropriately. Wills, trusts, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, and other related documents each serve a specific purpose and together form a major portion of your estate plan. To have true confidence that these documents meet your needs and will be recognized by courts, banks, and hospitals, you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Other benefits include the following:
Establish a Comprehensive Estate Plan
Your will and/or trust does not automatically cover all of your assets. If you’ve designated beneficiaries for your life insurance, retirement accounts, and property, those will all pass outside of probate or trust administration to those designated beneficiaries without becoming part of your estate unless you take steps to integrate them. Your attorney will review your assets, make recommendations, and assist you with retitling/redeeding accounts and property. The lawyer can also help you change beneficiary designations so your estate plan encompasses all of your assets. This process is critical to assuring that every asset is accounted for and is designated to the appropriate beneficiary.
Draft Documents Consistent with your Wishes
Estate planning wording is very precise and can thus be complex and confusing. Only a skilled estate planning attorney can translate your wishes into this required legal verbiage. Too often, when filling in preprinted forms or working with an online attorney, what you want isn’t represented in the document in the way needed to meetyour goals. Mistakes or inaccuracies are rarely found until after someone dies or becomes incapacitated and it’s too late to make changes. Avoid this risk by hiring an attorney who will listen careful to your plans and offer various options to make them a reality.
Update Documents as Needed
Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents reflect your life and expectations in the moment that they are drafted, but things can and often do change. You may sell an asset that was listed in your will, you may want to add beneficiaries such as grandchildren, or remove beneficiaries due to death or divorce. If you experience any significant life change, you should meet with your attorney as quickly as possible to review the documents and discuss adjustments. Sometimes a simple codicil or amendment can address the issue but you may need to reevaluate your estate plan to avoid probate or minimize estate taxes.
Professionally Execute Documents
When you hire an in-person attorney, your documents will be customized to your needs, professionally drafted and executed. This means that your lawyer will help make your documents truly official by arranging for witnesses and notary public signatures as necessary. With online legal resources, you must take these steps on your own and hope that you’ve done it correctly. A document that is not properly executed will not be legally binding.
Ensure Legal Compliance
Probate and trust laws are state-specific, which is another reason why online standardized forms cannot meet your needs. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney assures that your documents comply with current laws and will contact you if those laws have changed so your plan can be modified to remain in compliance.
Serve as a Trusted Resource
When you hire an estate planner, you are also establishing a relationship with a trusted resource who will work to assure that your documents are updated to meet your changing needs and respond to changes in the law. But just as important, this attorney can also serve as a guide to your loved ones in the event of your incapacitation or death. With their knowledge of your estate, your lawyer can take some of the burden off of them by ensuring the smooth settlement of your estate or administration of the trust.
Life Counsel & Planning is a law firm dedicated to addressing every aspect of your estate plan and related needs. In addition to the value we bring as described above, we take our commitment to our clients one step further by providing in-home consultation, document review, and document execution. With this service, you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve brought all of the necessary documents to the appointment, deal with traffic, or any other inconvenience.
Your life doesn’t fit neatly into a fill-in-the-blank form and neither does your estate. We will listen to your goals, review your estate assets, and work with you to create an estate plan that truly matches your intentions. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.