When planning for your future, you will want to consult an estate planning lawyer to discuss plans for your possible future incapacity and eventual death. An estate planning attorney does more than simply prepare your Last Will and Testament. A capable and experienced attorney will engage in deep discussions with you to gain an understanding of your family situation, financial status, and any wishes that you may have. When you meet with a qualified estate planning attorney, you should be prepared to discuss intimate topics including your family dynamics, tax goals, intended beneficiaries, and your current financial situation.
Help You Plan for Medical Emergencies and Possible Incapacity
An estate planning attorney will assist you in planning for your possible future incapacity by preparing two important documents: A Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney. A Health Care Proxy designates an individual to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so. A Power of Attorney designates someone to handle your financial affairs. Each of these documents will allow you and your loved ones to avoid the need for a costly, and sometimes arduous, guardianship proceeding in the event you were to suffer from mental incapacity.
Plan Mindfully for Estate Taxes to Protect Your Assets
Mindful estate tax planning seeks to minimize the amount of taxes owed by your estate upon your death. An experienced estate planning attorney will employ the use of Living Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, and other sophisticated tax planning tools to accomplish your goals. Even beyond tax planning, an estate planning attorney can ensure that your property is passed to your beneficiaries in the most favorable format. They will create Testamentary Trusts to protect your estate from creditors of your beneficiaries or to protect disabled beneficiaries from losing any government benefits. They can assist you in drafting beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies for the most favorable tax treatment and creditor protection.
Guide You Through the Tough Decisions
It is best to work with an estate planning attorney with experience in assisting clients whose goals are similar to your own. If you don’t know what your goals are, a qualified estate planning attorney will be able to assist you in figuring them out. They will ask you questions you may never have considered, such as who your ultimate beneficiaries should be in the event you and your primary beneficiaries should perish together or who you would like to make your medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. Your attorney will ask you about staggering the payout of assets to minor beneficiaries or those with a known spending problem or disability. You will know you have met with an experienced estate planning attorney when you leave their office after your initial conversation with new questions to answer for yourself. A general practitioner will not have the knowledge or experience to ask all the right questions to get you to your desired result.
What to look for in your estate planning attorney?
When looking for an estate planning attorney, be sure to find someone who is well informed about the laws in your state and who will listen thoughtfully to the details about your relationships and your finances. You should consult professionals with whom you already have a relationship for a referral to an estate planning attorney. This may be someone like your financial advisor, your accountant, or even an attorney practicing in a different field. We know it can be overwhelming to choose who to trust with such an intimate process. That’s why Dana and Associates offers a free personal family legal session where you get to meet us, talk about your estate planning goals and needs, and leave with our recommendations and a flat-rate fee for your custom estate plan.