The Value of an Estate Planning Attorney

May 2, 2016

estate planning attorneyWhen it comes to planning for your future and the future of your family, the advice of an estate planning attorney can be invaluable.  Estate planning attorneys can provide the guidance you need navigate through the numerous choices available.

What type of work does an estate planning attorney do?

An estate planning attorney specializes in preparing clients for, not only death, but also the possibility of mental incapacity.  Estate planning attorneys offer customized advice based on each client's needs and goals.  For example, clients may want to involve their family members in the management of their estates, while others might not.  Your attorney will describe all of your options and help you decide what you need to accomplish your goals for your estate. An attorney is also invaluable when it comes to ensuring your plan meets state guidelines.  That way, your plan will be valid and you can avoid most potential disputes.

Key talents your estate planning attorney should have

Because estate planning is not a "one size fits all" venture, it is vital that you work with an estate planning attorney who has the knowledge and experience required to advise you.   In order to be the most effective, your estate planning attorney should be very knowledgeable about the applicable laws in your state.  This would include the laws that regulate probate, wills, and trusts.  Otherwise, your estate plan may ultimately be invalid or not operate the way you intended.  It is also important to be as detailed about your life, your goals and your family situation, in order for your estate planning attorney to be able to create an appropriate plan.  If not, your estate plan will not likely meet your expectations or your personal goals.

What is typically involved in estate planning?

If your goal is to make sure you and your family are prepared for what happens after your death, an estate plan is what you need.   Estate planning can also prepare you for potential incapacity which could keep you from handling your own affairs. There are several different estate planning tools which an experienced estate planning attorney can use depending on your specific needs.  With an inclusive estate plan, you can simply prepare for both incapacity and death.

Why it is important to plan ahead

Planning for the future is always an important goal in many areas of your life.  When it comes to your estate, planning ahead provides you with the opportunity to decide who should inherit your property upon your death.  Estate planning can also be helpful in reducing your estate taxes.  In the event that you become incapacitated for any reason, whether temporarily or permanently, your estate plan can also give your family the authority it needs to manage your affairs if you are unable to make financial and medical decisions for yourself.

Estate planning for your death

Your estate planning attorney can explain how the part of your estate plan that relates to your death will work.  Your plan should first pay off your debts and then it should specify who will receive your remaining assets once your debts have been paid.  The most common estate planning tool used to accomplish this is a Will.  A will is essentially your written instructions on how you want your estate to be handled upon your death.  A will should also identify the individual you have chosen to manage the distribution of your estate.

Estate planning for mental incapacity

Very similar to planning for death, planning for the possibility that you may become incapacitated requires two components.  In case you suffer an injury or medical condition that makes you incapable of handling your own affairs, you will need someone to take make the important decisions for you.  The first part of a typical incapacity plan addresses your personal and health care needs, while the second part addresses your financial affairs.  On the other hand, if you become incapacitated but do not have an effective incapacity plan in place, it will likely be necessary for a court-supervised guardian to be appointed to care for you and handle your affairs.  Guardianships can be very expensive and require you to relinquish control of your affairs entirely.  For these reasons, planning ahead is critical.
If you have questions regarding estate planning, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.  Attend a free Webinar for more information.

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