How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
September 12, 2022
If you decide to prepare an estate plan, it is critical that you work with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your plan is enforceable and is targeted to fulfilling your goals and wishes for the disposition of your assets.
Documents Included in Estate Plans
Documents that are frequently included in estate plans include:
- Last will and testament, which states who will inherit from your estate following your death, appoints an executor to manage your estate, and can also nominate a guardian for your children if both you and your co-parent pass
- Trusts, in which your property and/or managed by a fiduciary according to your instructions under the terms of the trust document
- Durable power of attorney, which allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial and legal affairs if you become incapacitated
- Living will, in which you provide instructions regarding your medical or end-of-life care if you become incapacitated; you can also appoint someone to serve as your healthcare proxy/power of attorney
- Non-probate transfer documents, which allows you to pass assets to loved ones without needing to go through the probate process; these can include joint tenancy deeds or titles and beneficiary designations
How an Attorney Can Help with an Estate Plan
An estate planning attorney can use their legal knowledge and experience to select estate planning documents and draft the terms of those documents to meet your specific goals and needs. Some of the benefits of working with an attorney to develop your estate plan include:
- Ensuring that your assets are preserved and can continue to benefit you in the event you become disabled
- Minimizing tax liabilities for your estate and your heirs
- Minimizing family member conflicts through clear instructions in your estate planning documents
- Reduce the time and expense of probate proceedings
- Speeding up the distribution of your assets
- Ensuring that the assets you leave behind go to the parties you intend, including family members, alma maters, or charitable organizations
Questions to Ask When Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer
In choosing an estate planning attorney to help you draft up wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, you should take the opportunity during an initial consultation to ask certain questions of the attorney to gauge their experience, legal knowledge, and the kind of working relationship you will have with them. These questions may include:
- How long have you practiced law, and trusts and estates law specifically?
- What percentage of your practices involve trusts and estate work?
- What documents will I need for my estate plan?
- How much will estate planning cost/how are your fees structured?
- Do you also take care of the paperwork needed to fund a trust?
- Do you provide estate plan review services? Will you proactively contact me with changes in the law and recommended updates to my estate plan?
- How do you avoid family disputes in estate planning?
- How long will it take to complete estate planning?
- What other services can you provide to help me with estate planning and trust and estate administration?
Keep Your Estate Plan Updated
An estate plan is not something that you draft up and then lock away in a safe or filing cabinet until your passing. Instead, you should be regularly reviewing your estate planning documents, at least every five years or so and as well as after significant life events such as:
- Moving to another state
- Substantial increases in income
- Obtaining a significant sum of money, such as through an inheritance or winning the lottery
- Birth and marriage of children or grandchildren
- Acquiring or selling substantial assets, such as real estate, boats, planes, valuable artwork, etc.
Regular review of your estate plan will help ensure that the plan documents continue to reflect your current wishes as to the disposition of your assets. An estate planning attorney can also alert you to changes in the law that might invalidate portions of your estate plan or better estate planning options that you should take advantage of.
Contact a Fort Lee Estate Planning Attorney for a Consultation in New Jersey
You deserve to have peace of mind about whether your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone. The best way to plan for your future, and the future of your close family members or other loved ones, is to speak with an estate planning lawyer about your specific circumstances and financial situation. The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Choi Law Firm assist clients across North Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Essex County, and throughout New York, including Queens County, Nassau County, and NYC. Call us anytime at 201-613-5557 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation. Our main office is located at 1372 Palisade Avenue, 2nd Floor, Fort Lee, NJ, and we also have an office located in Flushing, NY at 164-01 Northern Boulevard.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
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