Key Reasons Why You Should Hire an Estate Planning Attorney
What is an estate planning attorney and what does he or she do?
Estate planning attorneys help you prepare for the unexpected. They are professionals who help take you through the specific set up of support networks in the event of a physical or mental disability. They walk you through questions to develop the plan that distributes your property upon death in regards to who receives it, and how they get it.
Why should I hire an estate planning attorney?
You may think that you don’t need an estate planning attorney to set up your will or create an end-of-life plan. I don’t have a Swiss chalet or a house on the beach, the thinking goes, so I can just use a DIY template from the Internet. Many experts caution against using legal templates. In many cases, templates are unable to handle more complex situations, or are not compatible with various state laws. A DIY template is also more likely to be declared invalid for missing key pieces of information, or being improperly signed. The last thing you want is for your beneficiaries to end up in court, or worse, for your end-of-life wishes to not be recognized because something wasn’t notarized correctly.
What if my estate planning needs are very simple?
Remember, it’s not the size of the estate that determines complexity. Some needs are just more complicated and require a larger breadth of knowledge. This is where talking to a real person is preferable to a machine. A good estate planning attorney knows the right questions to ask and can take into account your unique needs. For example, an attorney can guide you through the current state of the law regarding your options for health care decision making. They can also discuss the traits to consider as you choose financial agents for your powers of attorney, or help you choose the right executor for your estate. If you have minor children or children with special needs, it is crucial to protect them financially. The attorney can make sure that your plans are aligned properly with your assets to turn these wishes into a reality.
What are the laws in my State?
Does your state even have estate taxes, or are there distinct state taxes for properties of non-residents? Are there inheritance taxes in your state if you chose to will your assets to your children? These are the kinds of questions your lawyer can answer when assessing your estate. An estate planning lawyer will be able to flag unique issues relevant to your holdings with regard to the differences in state laws. In addition, if you
have property or holdings in two or more states, an attorney can help you navigate the state laws pertaining to both residents and non-residents.
Are estate planning attorneys expensive?
Many people choose a DIY template because they (rightfully) don’t want to spend extra money on something they could do themselves. However, if there ends up being any mistakes in the template, your beneficiaries could end up in expensive court cases down the line. A more reliable and cost-effective method is utilizing a lawyer to help you and your beneficiaries set up an estate plan. With a living trust, for example, you can (in some states) transfer funds to avoid larger administrative costs and eliminate probate. Your attorney would help you navigate the complexities of the inheritance tax system to get the maximum allotted amount of assets directly to your beneficiaries. By getting the job done correctly the first time, an estate planning attorney can help you to save money in the long run.
If you think any of these concerns apply to you, give yourself piece of mind and make an appointment with an estate planning attorney at Lewicky, O’Connor, Hunt & Meiser, LLC today.
Verena Meiser has 16 years of experience as a trust and estates attorney. She has been practicing law in Columbia, Maryland for the past 12 years. She specializes in estate planning and asset protection, special needs planning, elder law, VA planning, estate administration, trust administration and trustee support.