When most of us think of the wills, trusts, and estates lawyer, everyone has heard of the problems associated with poor planning. Whether it is fighting between heirs of a last will and testament or beneficiaries of a revocable or irrevocable trust, or whether there is too much discretion accorded to an executor or trustee, the problems that can occur after the passing of the testator of a will or grantor of a trust are potentially very grave.
And if one thinks it is better to die intestate (without a will or living trust dealing with one’s estate), think again. We all have possessions we cherish and want to pass on to specific people or organizations, something we want to be done after we have left this world. We may have personal items such as jewelry or financial assets of various sorts or real estate to be allocated. A will or living trust avoids the confusion that might otherwise arise amongst your family members or other beneficiaries after your demise. And wasteful and unpleasant probate court proceedings can be avoided to the extent possible.
Beware of The Legal Scammers
Even when we plan ahead and want to create a will, we still expose ourselves to the unscrupulous companies. A new type of scam is the estate planning scam.
It is important to know that the elderly are more prone to being taken advantage of by these companies. This is especially so if the person has reduced capacities. The estate planning scam occurs when an elderly person has to sign “power of attorney”. This gives the company total control over the person’s property or personal estate.
Beware of Unscrupulous Executors or Trustees and Overly-Wide Discretion
It is very important to appoint a person or persons as executor or trustee who are both trustworthy and not easily influenced or swayed by pressure – whether emotional or legal. The reason is that the job of executors and trustees is to carry out strictly the wishes of the testator in the case of a will or a grantor in the case of a trust. If they are not trustworthy, they will do things with their discretion over estate assets or trust assets that you never intended. And the same is true if they are unable to remain steadfast and strong in the face of pressure by family members or others with an interest in the disposition of the estate or trust assets.
Role of a Wills, Trusts, Estates and Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning requires a lawyer to analyze many different things. It includes tax consequences, trust law, probate law, often even business law, valuation of assets, and more. Estate planning attorneys and professionals are trained in estate planning and can find issues that might occur. They will make suggestions and point out areas that may need your particular attention. These professionals are able to engage financial planners, brokers, bankers, accountants, and other attorneys (such as real estate lawyers) as needed.
Understanding the Fees
As a general matter, it can be said that creating a will is relatively inexpensive but probating that will is far more expensive. Creating a living trust (an option available for US-based assets but not for Israel-based assets, where only the will and probate option exists under Israeli law) is expensive initially (because trust instruments are long and complex documents that require careful drafting) but usually inexpensive to implement because the trustee can implement the wishes of the trust grantor after his or her death without the need to go to probate court at all. It is important to understand all fees in advance so that there are no misunderstandings, and so that one can plan for the future without surprises for heirs or beneficiaries.
The Free Online Will
It is true that it is possible to represent oneself and draft a will or trust instrument. But there is a good chance that the do-it-yourselfer relying on free online forms in the area of last will and testaments. However, those non-lawyers relying on the “free” materials may pay the price of committing serious errors. These errors may defeat the very purpose of the will or trust instrument: To properly maximize the benefits of forward-planning, a competent professional should draft the will or trust instrument.
How To Ensure Your Family Stays Protected in The Event of Your Demise
There is no one stop quick shop for this. You need to create a will with a reliable attorney. If you need a trust, he can help go over everything. Analyze every issue and see things you might not have thought of. Once you draft a legal will or revocable or irrevocable living trust instrument, be sure to communicate your desires to your family. If you need to consult with an estate planning attorney, be sure to get in touch with us. We will be glad to help.