This article is from Nor Cal Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law (http://www.norcalplanners.com/) in Sacramento, California, that we thought others may find helpful.
Do you know the value of obtaining the advice of an estate planning attorney? Estate planning attorneys are there to guide you through the myriad of choices available in planning for the future. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you fully understand how to make your wishes and goals for your family a reality. If you have an estate planning attorney, you should develop a relationship with them because they most likely have more to offer than you know.
What is an estate planning attorney?
An estate planning attorney is a specialized lawyer who, after years of training, continued legal education and experience, recognizes how to best advise clients on getting their affairs in order and preparing for the possibility of mental incapacity and ultimately death. Estate planning attorneys can provide the type of customized advice that clients need because everyone’s goals are different. For instance, some clients want to involve their family members in the maintenance of their estate, while others may not. An experienced estate planning attorney can not only describe the many options available but also ensure that your wishes are carried out. Your estate plan must meet state guidelines in order to be valid and avoid disputes and challenges down the road.
Important qualities to look for in your estate planning attorney
One thing is certain; estate planning is not “one size fits all.” That’s why it is so important to work with an estate planning attorney who has the knowledge and experience necessary to advise you based on your unique family and financial situations.
To be effective, your estate planning attorney needs to be well versed in the applicable estate planning laws of your state. That includes the laws that regulate probate, wills, and trusts. If not, your estate plan may wind up being invalid or not operate the way expected. It is also a plus if you feel comfortable sharing the intimate details of your life with your estate planning attorney. If that’s not the case, your estate plan will likely fall far short of your expectations and not meet your personal goals.
What does Estate Planning really involve?
Estate planning is the best way to prepare yourself and your family for what happens after your death. Estate planning is also a way to prepare for unexpected incapacity that prevents you from handling your own affairs the way you need to. There are various estate planning tools that your estate planning attorney can use to help you create your estate plan, depending on your specific needs. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can easily prepare for both incapacity and death.
Why do I really need to plan ahead?
Planning for the future is important in many aspects of your life. When it comes to your estate, planning ahead allows you to decide who you want to inherit your property after your death. It can also help you reduce the amount of taxes your estate will be required to pay. In the unfortunate event that you become incapacitated for any reason, either temporarily or permanently, an estate plan will provide a blueprint for your family if you are unable to make financial and medical decisions for yourself.
Estate planning for your death
The part of your estate plan that relates to your death should address of two important components. First, your plan should provide for the payment of your debts. Secondly, the plan should identify who will receive your remaining assets after your debts have been paid. The most common estate planning tool used for this purpose is the Will or Last Will and Testament. A last will and testament is basically your written instructions regarding how you want your estate to be handled after your death. It should also identify the person you want to manage the distribution of your estate. There are many issues involved in estate planning for death which should be discussed with your estate planning attorney.
Estate planning for mental incapacity
Much like planning for death, planning for incapacity should consist of two parts as well. In the event you suffer an injury or medical conditions that cause your incapacity, you will need someone to take care of you and make decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so yourself. The first part of your incapacity plan should address your personal and health care needs. The second part should deal with your financial affairs. If you become incapacitated but you do not have a plan in place, a court-supervised guardian will likely be appointed to care for you. Guardianship can be a very expensive process, requiring that you relinquish complete control of your affairs. That is why planning ahead is crucial.
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