The purpose of estate planning is to help you achieve your personal and family goals after you pass away. It ensures that your assets will end up in the hands of those people whom you wish them to go to, so that you can reach your personal and financial goals even after you die. You also can reduce the amount of taxes paid by planning your estate in the right way to ensure that your heirs receive a larger inheritance.
The saying that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes has existed for centuries. While no one likes to think about dying, it is a certainty and something that must be faced. A plan for your estate consists of a set of documents that help you plan for taxes and death and it is something that nearly everyone needs regardless if their financial and familiar affairs are complex or simple.
The documents that make up an estate plan help you avoid problems that often arise upon your death. Many of these are problems most of us never think of during our lifetimes, or are things that we simply choose not to think of. But if there is no plan in place, these issues are handled by the courts. It is therefore very important to have a plan in place so that you can decide for yourself the best choices for your family, such as who will care for minor children, who will receive your property, and who will finalize your affairs.
Estate planning can be a rather complicated matter, and it does require good judgment to ensure that you achieve the outcomes you desire. It gives you the choice while you are alive to determine who, what, when, where and how your estate will be handled. It also allows for substantial savings when dealing with tax issues, court costs and attorney fees. Planning your estate also helps your loved ones avoid the burden of having to deal with bureaucracy and confusion after you pass away.
Unfortunately, many people do not plan their estates because they believe that they don’t need an estate plan or they believe that their family members can handle the task of dividing up their assets. However, if you fail to have a solid estate plan in place to handle the settlement of your affairs after you die, the laws in your state will determine what must be done.
This may result in family disagreements, assets going to the wrong people, and liability for estate taxes that could have been avoided. If you don’t have an estate plan in place before you die, your assets and affairs can be tied up for months. It is therefore of the utmost importance to plan your estate with care so that everything is handled properly (and according to your wishes) upon your death. Planning an estate can be a bit overwhelming. However, a reputable estate planning attorney in Utah has the knowledge and experience necessary to guide you through the process while keeping your interests and wishes in mind. When you have a good plan in place, you are given the peace of mind knowing that all of your affairs will be handled as you wish after you leave this earth.
You should consider several different questions before you sign an agreement with any attorney, but this is even more important when it comes to hiring a wills, trusts or estate attorney. This attorney will address sensitive family and financial issues that range from helping you pass assets on to your children and close family members, to protecting you from unnecessary taxes, to helping you determine the best person to make medical decisions on your behalf. This is why you need to know the answers to the following questions;
An attorney should offer you a free, no hassle consultation. First, meeting him or her will help to put you at ease and will give you a chance to discuss your case in a frank manner. You will also have a chance to ask questions and to determine if this is an attorney whom you can trust to address your legal concerns. Second, it gives the attorney the opportunity to ask you questions and to learn more about your case. You might discover that you do not get along very well with this attorney. Conversely, the attorney may realize that your case is not the type that he wants to take or is not related to his field of expertise. For this type of relationship to work in an effective and productive manner, both you and your attorney need to be able to work together comfortably.
Every attorney should use a written agreement, which is known as a retainer agreement. In this agreement, the attorney should clearly state the fee that you will be charged and honor this agreement. The attorney should clearly explain the fee, the services that he will perform, and should also clearly explain the options that are available to you to pay this fee. You should not sign this agreement until you understand how much you will be charged, what the attorney will do for you, what information he will need from you, any deadlines involved, and any other obligations that you are required to perform. You should always feel free to ask the attorney questions if you do not understand something in the agreement or otherwise. You should also ask about the expected completion of the work.
A flat fee encourages the attorney to work in an efficient manner and also prevents you from receiving an unexpectedly large bill upon the completion of the services. This can happen if it takes the attorney longer to complete the work than he initially thought.
Your attorney works for you and is being paid to help you plan your estate. You should not tolerate an attorney that will not refund your money if you are not completely satisfied with the work. Additionally, your attorney should be willing to revise your documents that he is initially drafting. However, after he has drafted them and you have expressed your satisfaction, you should not expect the attorney to revise these documents unless you have kept the attorney on retainer. Please note that no attorney will guarantee results if your matter is being litigated in court.
Your attorney should help you make decisions about the most appropriate documents and vehicles to accomplish your estate planning objectives, but should also assist you with buying insurance, saving for college, planning for retirement, and all of the other challenging decisions that will arise. In fact, your attorney should have a team of trusted advisors in place in order to help you make the best possible decisions. If your attorney is unable or unwilling to advise you on these matters, then you should seek out an attorney who will do so. Having such an attorney will prevent you from making expensive and unnecessary mistakes, and will save you time in having to hunt for additional advisors.
Your attorney should be able to answer your phone calls, emails, and questions quickly. You are paying this attorney for service and for professional guidance and attention, not just for the drafting of your estate planning documents. How often have you heard from friends and loved ones about an attorney that takes days, weeks or more to respond to phone calls? Do not tolerate such unprofessional behavior. Ask your attorney about this and if he is unable to convince you that he has such a process in place, then continue your search for an attorney that will get back to you in a time efficient manner.
Some attorneys recognize that wealth is not measured solely by your net worth, by the value of your brokerage and retirement accounts, but is also measured by who you are as a person. Your intangible assets, such as lessons that you have learned over a lifetime of building wealth, or the wisdom you have accumulated through your life experiences that you would like your children to know more about, are very valuable, almost priceless. These should not be forgotten.
When deciding whether to hire an attorney, be sure to select someone who will help you capture, document, and pass on all of your assets, including those intangible ones that are often overlooked.
You could hire an attorney at the largest firm around and pay him an exorbitant fee, but if your assets are not titled and owned in the right manner, then the plan that he created will not work for you. The attorney that you plan to hire should be willing to ensure not only that your documents are drafted correctly, but also that your assets are structured properly.
Do not be afraid to ask these questions before you hire an attorney to work with your family on legal planning matters. When you find an attorney that says yes to these questions, hire him or her quickly before the practice fills up and he or she stops taking on new clients. Asking these questions and hearing the right answers before you engage a lawyer to work on your wills, trusts, and estate will ensure you put in place legal planning for your family that will work when you need it.
Nearly everyone craves control. It’s just human nature! So it only makes sense that many individuals want to be in complete control when it comes to long term care planning, creating their will, and other end of life issues. However, drafting a will or making plans for your estate without the help of a qualified estate planning attorney can be a huge mistake — and here’s why!
One of the most convincing reasons to seek an attorney experienced in elder law is the simple truth that probate laws vary significantly depending upon the state in which you reside. What is acceptable in one state may not be in another. Not only do these laws vary geographically, but they also change quite often! Individuals who seek professional assistance are less likely to face unnecessary disputes or setbacks as a result of one minor misinterpretation or error. Estate planning attorneys are extensively trained in all areas of elder law. It is their job to keep up with every intricate detail of state and local laws, including any amendments or changes. That’s why it is a good idea to have your estate planning attorney review your will, and other important documents, periodically to ensure they are in compliance.
Drafting a will may seem like a simple endeavor, but truthfully, it is very complex! While there are countless decent templates floating around the Internet, the problem is that everyone’s situation is unique and probate laws vary. As such, a cookie cutter approach just isn’t advisable. Probate attorneys are skilled in crafting customized wills that minimize complications and disputes down the road. You may wonder what exactly “probate” means? In essence, this is the process through which a will is declared legally valid, and it occurs shortly after an individual’s death. Once the probate procedure begins, there are a multitude of issues that can either complicate or significantly delay the proceedings, including unhappy family members who may file lawsuits. By sourcing a skilled probate attorney to create your will, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of such setbacks — and thereby ensure that your affairs are handled smoothly and to your specifications.