If you have several properties and assets under your name, it is best to consider planning and organizing them with the help of an estate planning lawyer. To you it may still be early to think of your family’s future, particularly your children. But no one really knows what will happen, so it is best to prepare ahead to prevent issues and possible parties to take advantage of the situation.
Putting your assets, such as real estate properties, in place as early as now will ensure peace of mind for both you and your family. Establishing a will is also important if you have already stopped working and enjoying your retirement years. Your will can be prepared with the help of your attorney who can draft the necessary conditions and allocations based on your decisions. The tedious paperwork can be accomplished seamlessly by a professional lawyer who specializes in estate planning. By getting in touch with someone whose caliber is accounted for by many of his clients can surely help you in achieving your desired goals for the future.
Handling of your personal property can be easily said than done. An estate planning lawyer can give you the best options on how to handle your money, estate, and other assets. In fact, you can make specific rules on how and who will handle your valuable assets during your golden years and beyond. You may have stored your property documents within a trust, but you will need to grant them to your beneficiaries. The early you plan and accomplish all of these, the better for your assets.
In the case of divorce, an estate planning attorney can help draft the necessary actions as to where your money should go and who should benefit from it after the split. More often than not, some couples forget about the importance of keeping their assets for their children because all they want is to get their share of assets once the marriage is over.
Preparing for your golden years and having a proper attorney at hand can make things easier for you, especially when the time comes when you are no longer around to specifically entrust and designate your properties and assets. This can also help your family, especially your children, during your absence and their vulnerability. This can give everyone peace of mind and clarity when the right time comes.
While your relatives and closest family can offer help in these aspects, it is still ideal to let the professional and experienced lawyer handle it for you. You should talk to an attorney soon if you are already planning for your future and the security of your assets. An estate planning lawyer can better explain the importance of securing your assets as early as now. This will surely help your family and prevent disputes over your properties once you have passed away.
Who Needs An Estate Planning Lawyer?
An estate planning lawyer is a legal professional you can turn to for answers to your questions and guidance about your future. These professionals are a serious investment in making your wishes into reality. The problem is that when planning these final decisions of your life, you need to do so properly. Just one mistaken word or missing file can lead to all of your wishes in a will or other plan to be completely at risk. In order to plan these decisions effectively, you need a legal representative by your side.
Through Your Life
One of the mistakes some people make is to believe that they are too young or too healthy to worry about these types of decisions. When working with an estate planning attorney, you are talking your retirement years as well as the decisions regarding your assets. However, waiting until you are elderly means you have waited too long. Not only will this professional help you to form legal documents in regards to your decisions, but he or she may also help you to create a plan to achieve your goals. That takes time to do. Over the course of your life, your decisions will change, too. That is why it is critical to work with an attorney throughout your life.
Managing State Laws
When it comes to ensuring your wishes are possible, it helps to have someone by your side that understands state laws well. These professionals need to understand the intricacies of these laws. Laws regarding trusts, wills, financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, trustees and health care surrogates change and differ significantly from one location to the next.
Using Books and Kits
One mistake that people make is turning to third parties rather than lawyers for this task. There are various kits and many books on how to establish these plans and how to make them work. These are lesser expensive methods, but they are highly risky methods, too. Without the guidance and advice of your attorney, you may end up putting a lot of work into a process that does not pay off. Mistakes, as well as differences in laws can make a huge impact on how effective these products can really be. Instead, invest less time, hire a lawyer, and ensure your money is well spent on making your wishes reality. As you consider hiring an estate planning lawyer, realize the options are your own. Do not put off hiring someone. Find a professional you can trust to do a good job based on his or her experience. Additionally, it is a good idea to revisit this process several times throughout your life to update your decisions to reflect your current situation.
Estate Planning Documents For Young Families
One of the junctures in life when people get serious about estate planning is after they have their first child. Among other responsibilities comes one of the most difficult questions in estate planning: Who should raise my child if something happens to me and my spouse? Most young families don’t need extensive estate planning, but they do need four key documents. The first three are there in case you become incapacitated because of accident or illness. The fourth exists in case you die.
1. Vermont Advance Directive. This document allows you to name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to convey your health care wishes. In addition, this document also allows you to give guidance regarding the types of care you would want under various scenarios. What’s most important about this document is that it indicates what you want in writing. Absent a written document, it’s difficult for your family and doctors to know, and agree on, what care you would want under various conditions.
2. Power of Attorney for Finances. When you sign a power of attorney, you are authorizing someone (your agent) to act on your behalf in regard to the powers included in the document. While spouses can pay bills and take care of your financial life in most respects if you become incapacitated, there are areas where even a spouse cannot act for you. For instance, your spouse needs written authority to manage your retirement accounts and any other accounts you own solely in your own name.
3. HIPAA Release. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act established regulations to prevent the unauthorized release of your medical information. Generally, this is a good law that protects your privacy. But, sometimes hospitals and other care providers restrict the flow of information even to those people you may want to receive it, such as your parents or a sibling. By signing a HIPAA Release, you are authorizing a hospital to release your medical information to the persons named in the document.
4. Last Will and Testament. In addition to indicating how you want your possessions distributed among your survivors, your Will is the traditional place to name who should be responsible for raising your children in the event something happens to you. As with the other documents, it is important that you have a written statement of your wishes. Without a written statement, the court has no guidance from you as to who you think would be the best stand-in parents for your children. These documents should be completed by everyone, especially young parents. Fortunately, none of them are overly complex, but you should first speak to an experienced estate planning attorney to learn about your options and to make the best decisions possible.
What To Do With Personal Items In Your Estate Plan
Deciding what to do with your personal items such as your favorite piece jewelry that has been handed down from six generations is what many people think of when they make an estate plan. Although most people should be worried about the big assets such as the house or the retirement accounts, there is an inordinate amount spent focusing on small assets. Many times it is not the big assets such as the house or bank accounts that cause fights among family members when an estate is divided. It is the smaller sentimental items that cause the most fights. These are the items that mean more to individual family members and the items that they are going to be more likely to fight about. This can be the piece of furniture promised to child years ago or a gift from a child to a parent that meant a lot to them that they would like back. To make sure that an item goes to a potential heir it is best to give that person the item as gift during lifetime, make sure that item is specifically named in the will, or better yet to have a personal property memorandum or separate list of who gets what. A personal property memorandum allows you to name a specific item and who gets it. It must be referenced in your will, but after that you can change or update without an attorney or notary.
If an item is not gifted, mentioned in the will, or in the personal property memorandum it becomes part of the residuary of the estate and will go to the person named in the residuary regardless of who it was promised to. This is when a family fight is most likely to occur as a child will try to take a sentimental item that belongs in the residuary of the estate and the personal representative of the estate tries to get it back. Potential fights can be eliminated by planning ahead. To prevent this from occurring it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney so the plan or action that you take in making your estate plan will not have the unintended consequence of ripping the family apart and causing a lengthy probate proceeding and estate litigation. An estate planning attorney can come up with a plan that leaves everyone satisfied at best and at worst prevent a fight or misunderstanding amongst potential heirs.
Does Your Estate Plan Meet Your Needs?
If you’ve started creating an estate plan, then you probably know there’s more than one way to address all your concerns. Having an estate planning attorney in your corner is a good way to ensure that your plan is always up-to-date and includes all the tools you need to accomplish your goals. But if you haven’t scheduled a review with an attorney, now might be a good time to consider whether or not your plan still meets your needs. Your Will for example, is good for distributing your assets and can even name a guardian for your minor children. But maybe your life has changed and you now need more than what a Will can offer.
Do you have a disabled dependent for example? You might want to set up a Special Needs Trust that will provide for them without affecting their ability to qualify for government assistance programs. Would you like your family to be able to avoid probate? If so, a Living Trust might be a good option for you.
Advanced Directives can address incapacity concerns and ensure that you and your assets are protected if you become mentally disabled or are otherwise unable to speak on your own behalf. In fact, there are a number of ways to minimize taxes and even protect what your loved ones inherit from their creditors and lawsuits. But the only way to take advantage of these strategies is to schedule a review with a qualified estate planning attorney.
How Often Should You Review Your Estate Plan?
When you buy a new car, everything works perfectly. (At least, you hope it does.) But then in 3,000 miles, it’s time for an oil change. Also, you must keep your eye on the level of coolant in the radiator, your transmission fluid, and your power steering fluid. You must make sure your alternator works to keep the battery charged.
What happens if you don’t maintain your car? Your engine could burn up. Your transmission could fail. Your car could overheat. Your battery could go dead. All of which mean you’re stuck on the side of the road trying to hitchhike to the nearest town.
Your estate plan is like your car. When you set it up, everything is current and accurate. But you need to keep your eye on your assets, insurance, Powers of Attorney, gifting program, distribution plan, successor trustees, beneficiaries, and so much more. That’s why it’s important that you meet with your estate planning attorney every year. You wouldn’t think of going on a long trip without making sure that your car was in tip-top shape. Yet every day, people embark on the long trip we call life. And the problem with our “life trip” is that we’re never sure when that trip might end. It’s a good idea to review your estate plan with your lawyer every year or two to see if changes in your family’s circumstances need to be reflected in your estate plan.
You paid good money for a comprehensive estate plan to protect your family and assets. So, when was the last time you reviewed it? An old, outdated plan is basically no good to you or your family, so take a little time to have your plan reviewed to make sure it will work the way you intend. If you pass away with an outdated plan, your current wishes will not be carried out. A well written plan should change and evolve as your family and life change and evolve. I recommend you review your estate plan if one of the following events occurs:
• If you are newly married or if you re-marry
• If you get a divorce (even just legal separation)
• If you move to another state
• You acquire property in a different state
• Your insurability for life insurance changes
• The birth of a child
• You adoption a child
• Your child marries
• Your child divorces
• Your child becomes ill
• Death of a family member
• Death of your spouse
• Property acquisition (especially house, vacation home, etc.)
• Changes in tax laws
• Inheriting assets from family or friends
• Selling your business or buying a business
• Buying property outside of your home state
• One of your beneficiaries experiences an economic change, good or bad
• One of your beneficiaries has a change in attitude toward you
• One of your beneficiaries proves to be financially irresponsible
• One of your beneficiaries dies
Any one of these life changing events can affect your estate plan and require the addition, deletion, or revision of a provision or require you to rewrite your entire plan. Ask your attorney if he/she has an updating and maintenance program that you can participate in. That way, your estate plan will be regularly reviewed and up-to-date so it will work for you during your lifetime and when it is needed the most.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506