An estate planning attorney is a licensed professional who can help legally arrange the process of planning what will happen to your properties in case of death. An estate planning attorney should have experience as legal professionals with additional knowledge in estate planning, federal laws, and state taxes.
People have a misconception that estate planners only help to draw up a will and make it legal. The fact is, they can do more extensive work, from planning to execution. According to lawyers at www.huberfox.com, it helps if the attorneys you choose can assist in other related cases such as:
- probate and trust administration
- designating a financial power of attorney
- trust and estate litigation
- designating a medical power of attorney
- determining one’s legacy
You can find an estate planning attorney in your local area or search for one online. Another way to go is to find someone recommended by friends and family to get their feedback and ensure you’ll be hiring a trusted individual.
When to start estate planning?
The best time to start estate planning is when you have reached several milestones in your life. These may include purchasing property, having a savings account that has grown significantly, marriage and having kids, or when you received a significant inheritance.
Why should you hire an estate planning attorney?
You hire an estate planning attorney because things like appraising the value of your properties, filing taxes, and transferring titles to your kin are not that simple. Depending on where you live, some federal-state rules and taxes need arranging through a plethora of documents.
Estate planning attorneys can assist you in making a will, appointing your beneficiaries, finding a way to reduce taxes, and setting up trusts. Legalizing asset distribution will avoid conflicts between family members in the future.
Questions to ask before hiring one
You may want to look for an estate planning attorney who has passed the bar exams, has a few years of experience practicing law, and has certifications in estate planning. If you’re dealing with a complicated and extensive disbursement of your properties and assets, you may want to hire someone who already has a few years of experience handling these kinds of planning. You may also consult with a financial advisor for additional support.
If you’re going to hire an estate planning attorney, here are some questions you want an answer from to make you feel more at ease:
1. What are your areas of specialization?
Of course, you will be hiring someone who practices estate planning, but other than that, every lawyer has another area of specialization, and it is crucial to know their background. You want someone knowledgeable about the federal laws governing your estate. You also want someone who can guide you about inheritance taxes, set up trusts, and make sure everything flows accordingly to avoid probate court cases.
2. How long have you been practicing estate planning?
You need to ask this question because it gives you an idea of how much experience they have regarding estate planning. Certain hurdles may come up in more complicated planning cases, particularly with taxes and the Internal Revenue Service. You want to make sure that the lawyer you are getting knows how to work around these issues.
3. What is the extent of your service?
You want an estate planner who can do more than just help you draw up a will. You want someone who can be there for the long haul and see the estate planning through its execution. Ask your lawyers what the service coverage is and if they can do periodic reviews of your documents annually or at your preferred period.
4. How much is your professional fee?
Preparing a simple will cost around $200 at a flat rate, but a more experienced attorney can charge almost double that price at an hourly rate. The pricing will depend on the extent of service you wish to avail.
A safe estimate on the cost of estate planning would be around $1,000 again, depending on how complicated the situation is. Some will offer a consultation package, so you need to ask about these things before you start asking estate-related questions.
5. Do you have someone in your law firm to assist me in case of your absence?
A lawyer will always strive to make themselves available for their client but remember that they also have other things to attend to. You want to make sure that if your lawyer is not available to answer a question or has an emergency, there should be someone in their office who can assist you.
6. How long does it take to finalize my estate planning?
Your lawyer will probably tell you that it depends on how extensive you want your estate plan. Drawing up a simple will can be done in a few days. If you have numerous properties and tax situations are complicated, it might take several meetings with lawyers, financial advisors, and other related professionals to finalize the will.
Another thing, the will may need to be updated every few months or annually, depending on how the family situation changes. The good thing is, a will is not set in stone. It can be subject to amendment with the help of the same lawyer.
Estate planning can be very stressful and emotional for families. It helps that a professional lawyer helps them deal with the technicalities of property ownership and transfer of titles.
Having an estate planning attorney oversee the paperwork involved in all this will be worth the fees paid. It is stressful, time-consuming, and you may run into tax-related issues that you don’t know how to resolve.
You may be thinking about doing things yourself and avoid paying attorney fees, but you may end up having loopholes in your documents that may cost you even more. Experienced attorneys can help save you a lot of money by helping you reduce or even altogether avoid these taxes if favored by the law.
Finally, get everything in writing and document every transaction. Remember that you are dealing with your life assets here. Even with a trusted lawyer, being careful will assure you that you can still salvage the situation if there’s trouble with your attorney in the future.