Many people are under the impression that estate planning is only for the extremely wealthy. However, everyone has an estate, which consists of all their possessions like a car, home, bank accounts, financial investments and life insurance policies and even furniture and books. Estate planning is the process of making sure that your estate is disposed as you wish in the event of death or incapacitation. Estate planning law is complex, and planning is best done in consultation with professionals. Many reputable law firms have multiple practice areas, and have real estate, personal injury and car accident lawyers who also specialize in estate planning.
What is the purpose of estate planning?
Estate planning means deciding in advance how your property and possessions will be divided and disposed of after your life or if you are incapacitated. It allows you to specify the beneficiaries, and to control how your property will be used to benefit people or organizations. For many people, estate planning is also a way of minimizing the amount of taxes, legal fees, and court costs associated with passing on your property.
Clients give three main reasons for setting up an estate plan. For the majority, or 59%, estate planning is a way of avoiding probate and the associated delays while the courts decide what to do with your property. Another major reason for estate planning, cited by 57%, is to avoid conflict among beneficiaries, by clearly stating how your property is to be disposed. And for 39%, it’s a way of ensuring that their children and other surviving relatives manage their inheritance properly.
What does estate planning entail?
Most people, quite naturally, prefer not to dwell on what will happen after their lives end or if they are incapacitated by serious illness or old age. This makes them reluctant to address the issue of how their property is to be handled in that event. In fact, the majority of Americans, somewhere between 55% to 70%, don’t have an estate plan or even a simple will. However, being prepared for any eventuality makes life easier for your family, and gives you the peace of mind to know that your wishes will be carried out. Most law firms include estate planning among their practice areas, along with real estate, medical malpractice, car accident lawyers, etc.
Estate planning lawyers work with clients to determine their wishes and help them to draw up a plan to carry them out at the specified time. Estate planning allows you to name a guardian and inheritance administrators for minor children, clearly specify how your estate and possessions are to be divided to avoid family conflicts, and set up trusts or other ways to manage money for children or relatives who might otherwise mismanage their finances. Another major benefit of estate planning is that it helps to minimize taxes, court fees and other legal costs.
Do you need professional help for estate planning?
Estate planning is not a one-time event but must be continually reviewed as your family and financial situations change over time. Estate planning lawyers work with your financial advisors, who may be investment advisors, accountants, insurance professionals, and bank representatives to develop an appropriate estate plan. Like personal injury and car accident lawyers, they can help you navigate this complex area of law to secure your best interests.
They can use tools like wills, trusts, power of attorney, succession plans, and health care proxies to achieve your goals. They can also continue to work with and advise executors and trustees on the settlement of the estate and administration of trusts. In the event of any conflicts of legal challenges, they can provide an objective and sympathetic view that keeps the best interests of the family as the goal.
Estate planning allows you to provide for your family and other beneficiaries even if you’re not there to guide and help them. It also allows you to minimize legal costs and taxes to pass on the maximum property to your beneficiaries. Most law firms offer estate planning services along with real estate, personal injury and car accident lawyers. In this complex area of law, legal guidance is necessary to achieve your goals.by