Do you need an estate planning attorney?

Most people do benefit from hiring a estate planning attorney. Even if you draft your own will, you would be well served by having an experienced attorney check it over. An attorney can find and correct potential problems to make it ironclad to prevent headaches for your beneficiaries later on.

Taxes are another compelling reason to work with an estate planning attorney if you have a very large estate. Estates worth more than $11.58 million (in 2020) have to pay federal tax, and some states will collect taxes from smaller estates.

If you have considerable assets, it’s essential to have a proper plan in place. An estate planning attorney will help ensure that your assets go to your beneficiaries without incurring big tax bills or court battles.

There are two aspects of estate planning. First, your will provides for what happens after you pass away, and second it specifies a plan for the instance in which you are unable to care for your estate or yourself.

Estate planning attorneys handle trusts, wills, taxes and the probate process. Proper planning will ensure that your estate’s assets are properly disbursed according to your will and prevent anyone from contesting your will. They will also help to minimize taxes incurred on your beneficiaries.

Because state laws vary significantly, make sure to choose an estate planning attorney who is well-versed in the laws in your state. Additionally, if you have concerns regarding health care or long term care, you may want to find an elder law attorney who can help with these matters as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

What exactly do estate planning attorneys do?

Big decisions have to be made when you start thinking about how to pass on and disburse your assets to your loved ones, both before and after your death. An experience estate planning attorney is an invaluable resource in guiding you through this process.

An estate planning attorney will take your personal goals and apply local laws to your estate plan. This will help prevent anyone contesting your will. You can also designate your attorney as the executor of your will. 

Another option you may want to consider is a trust, which can help reduce the size of your estate and taxes. Your lawyer can help with setup and management of your trust.

Your estate plan should also stipulate provisions in the event that you are unable to care for yourself. A living will addresses the health care you want provided to you, as well as who will manage your estate in this situation, with a power of attorney.

An estate attorney will also cover instances such as when a beneficiary dies before you, or distribution of assets for which you didn’t specify a beneficiary.

How much does an estate planning attorney cost?

There are many variables in cost, such as where you live, which services you get and how complex your situation is, which can lead to more time spent on your case. Some lawyers charge by the hour, especially if your case is a bit more complicated. If your will seems more straightforward, you may be able to just pay a flat fee upfront.  

Why Should You Work With an Attorney?

There are several compelling reasons to have an experienced estate planning attorney draw up your will.

  • Make sure your assets reach your intended beneficiaries; for this you need to be sure your will is ironclad. 
  • Each state has different estate laws. Hiring a professional who is well-versed in these local laws is important.
  • Legal documents can be complicated and sometimes small errors or omissions can lead to big problems.

While there is a plethora a free and cheap legal documents online, mistakes made by a novice can be costly, or even lead to your will being contested. Also, because each state has different laws on estate handling, you need to be sure to adhere to your own state’s requirements. For just one example, your state may stipulate that you must name an executor who is either a resident of your state or a relative. If you don’t adhere to these criteria, you could unknowingly be sending your estate, and subjecting your loved ones, to a long and messy probate process. Other seemingly small mistakes can incur unnecessary taxes and other difficulties for your beneficiaries.

At McIlwain Law, we have over 100 years combined experience in New Jersey. We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and pride ourselves in taking care of our clients with compassion. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation, either by sending us a message here, or by calling us at 1(877) 375-9599. We look forward to speaking with you.