Take the time to find and hire a professional and respected estate planning attorney in your area. In the long run, you and your family will be glad you did. Learn about these specialized attorneys can help you.
Estate planning affairs could be considered some of the least pressing for most Americans – we generally do not think much about our own deaths. As a result, we tend to procrastinate simple proactive measures like drafting a will or setting up a healthcare directive. Yet, the importance of these measures should not be understated, especially in a time such as this, where we are constantly reminded of the unpredictability and fragility of life.
Estate planning is not just a way to exert one’s will onto the family after death – it’s a way of providing for those we care about by preparing them for the worst and preempting the inevitable. But, of course, estate plans are not one-and-done and should be revisited and amended every few years.
While we statistically do not care much to deal with the idea of our own passing, doing so through a comprehensive estate plan can also prepare our loved ones for otherwise hefty and unexpected legal, medical, and tax consequences – and the significant financial burden therein. But before you begin thinking about the minute details of your own ideal estate plan, you need to ask yourself: whom will you trust to help draft these documents with you?
Estate planning attorneys specialize in helping a client draft plans that best match their circumstances and intentions. Unfortunately, this does not always translate into large-scale trust funds, tax avoidance plans, or living wills excluding specific medical procedures.
The world of estate planning provides plenty of room for flexibility and customization – both of which are necessary, but not to the extent that every client should take advantage of every feature of the law. Some people are best served through simple estate plans.
There are significant differences between wills and trusts and between different trust mechanisms – such as revocable and irrevocable trusts, blind trusts, testamentary trusts, and living trusts. Furthermore, living wills and healthcare proxies serve distinct purposes, and neither necessarily plays the role of the financial proxy.
An estate planning attorney’s role is to help you, the client, navigate the waters and make an informed decision as to how you want to handle the financial implications of your death, as well as whom you would want to involve in your end-of-life care and decision-making.
Estate planning attorneys should ideally be local, experienced, and reputable. Other qualities to look for include (but is not limited to):
Beyond knowing what to look for, you need to know what to ask. Here are some suggestions to help get you started.
— Experience is just as important as reputation, if not more so.
— It is in your best interest to speak and work with the same person who will actively create and execute your documents. You do not want details to get lost in transit.
— Ideally, estate plans should be revisited once every few years or after every major life-changing event.
— One of the more important factors behind crafting an estate plan is avoiding an unnecessarily large tax impact upon your death.
— Some firms specialize in trusts and wills. Others provide more comprehensive estate planning services, including drafting an estate plan at nearly every stage of life. As we grow older, our priorities and circumstances change, and our plans should reflect this.
— Trusts can be the most important tool in an estate plan, given their flexibility. Yet, they aren’t always necessary, especially in cases without extraordinary circumstances, large or complicated assets, lengthy and costly probate, or hefty tax considerations. Nevertheless, some lawyers try to “upsell” their clients on trust because it’s a money-maker. Instead, make sure you are convinced that your estate needs one.
— While it is tempting to leave everything in the hands of a professional, these are ultimately documents that are supposed to reflect your final wishes accurately. Therefore, it is important to review them to avoid miscommunication and confusion personally.
— Lastly, you should know how your estate planning attorney plans to charge you. Some ask for a percentage of the estate, while others charge a flat fee or an hourly rate.
Contrary to what you might think, the services of an estate planning attorney are not solely for the benefit of your loved ones. Instead, you can benefit immediately from working with an estate planning professional beyond the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have your personal and financial affairs sorted should the worst come to pass.
Some estate plans affect not just what will happen after you die but what happens during your final years. Estate plans allow you to plan for mental incapacity and severe illness, stress one type of treatment over the other, argue for or against life support, and more. An estate plan also forces you to organize your finances and consider how an IRA, life insurance policy or investment may affect your estate’s and your beneficiaries’ taxes, both in life and in death.
Many estate planning professionals also double as specialists in trust law and can advise you on the benefits of setting up or buying into a trust for investment purposes, asset protection, or as a means to separate yourself from a potential conflict of interest if you wish to pursue a political or humanitarian career. An estate plan may not be the most exciting thing to work on, but it is often a necessary part of leaving behind a lasting and constructive financial and personal legacy.
Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.
Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.
Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one
If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.
23 Corporate Plaza Dr., Suite 150
Newport Beach, California 92660