Most of us don’t want to think about the event of our death, but having an estate plan for our belongings and valuables can make the grieving process much smoother for relatives left behind. A consultation with an estate attorney can help you control what happens to your assets after you pass away. If you have heirloom jewelry, a home, a car, or money that you want to leave for designated relatives, having these requests written in a legal document can prevent complications later on. The role of an attorney in estate planning helps cover all bases and provide peace of mind to clients.
Read on to learn more about what estate attorneys do, and how you can benefit from their services.
What Is Estate Planning?
Your “estate” includes anything that contributes to your net worth. It could be your home, your car, business, or heirloom jewelry, as just a few examples. Estate planning is the process of deciding who will own or care for these assets when you are no longer able to do so. This can be manifested by creating living wills or trusts. There are many different options to choose from; having an estate attorney can be tremendously valuable.
When You May Need an Estate Attorney
When putting certain requests into legal documents, having current knowledge of state law and the various tasks required is important. Estate attorneys can break down the seemingly overwhelming process into smaller steps, such as:
Creating a Will
This is a written document that clearly states one’s desire for the distribution of their assets after death. You can name specific relatives to take possession of specific items, such as jewelry, furniture, and other valuables.
Choosing a Beneficiary
If you have a life insurance policy, the beneficiary (which can be more than one person) will receive a designated amount of money: the amount depends on how much you want your policy to be worth. Many people request to divide their policy benefits among their children or grandchildren. Others may choose a charity organization as the beneficiary.
Power of Attorney
Many people start getting their affairs in order when they learn about a terminal medical prognosis. An estate attorney can help you declare someone you trust to make medical or legal decisions on your behalf once you are no longer physically or mentally capable of advocating for yourself.
Several states impose an estate tax, and you could be subject to a federal estate tax. An estate attorney will know when such tax is applicable, and help reduce the amount.
When you don’t have an estate plan, your relatives could end up debating the future of your possessions in probate court: a long, expensive, and emotionally draining process. An attorney will help you set up a trust to protect your assets and prevent your family from having to end up in court, where the fate of your assets is at the mercy of the statutory requirements in your state.
Additional Roles of Estate Attorneys
The life and family dynamics that influence the division of assets can be complicated. If, for example, you own more than one business or have been married more than once, you may need to update more than one document in compliance with state and federal laws. Estate attorneys can help draft clear, professional documents for each to avoid confusion, as well as offer advice about beneficiary designations and asset titling.
The Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A., have been serving the residents of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties for over 50 years. Our experienced attorneys offer a variety of legal services to help you manage your assets and protect what matters most to you.