There are a lot of things that we try to avoid thinking about regularly: painful relationship issues, difficult financial issues, high taxes, and making a will. The average person doesn’t want to have to think about the inevitability of the last step in the cycle of life leaving this world. The truth is, however, that it’s vitally important to ensure that you have legal documentation in place to ensure that all of your wishes and priorities are carried out properly when you are no longer here to see to look after them yourself.
We are living in a do-it-yourself epoch in which everyone thinks that they can do everything themselves. Thanks to the Internet and various software options available, many people believe that they can handle estate planning on their own. They don’t understand why they should have to hire a wills, trusts, and estate and probate lawyer to prepare something that they’re promised they can do easily by just paying a small fee to a software developer or a website. There are, however, many reasons why it’s a smart idea to hire a lawyer who has experience in working with their clientele to protect their legacy, property, rights, and estate through a will.
Things to Consider
When you start wondering if hiring an attorney is the right approach to create your will, one of the first things you need to think about is the number and kind of assets that you have. Every state is different and each state has a designated minimum asset requirement for probate and for exemption from State inheritance (or “death”-) taxes. If, for example, a person has been living in an assisted living facility for a long time, and has no real estate, it is very likely that they will not have the kind of assets for which probate is required. This means that the only items that will require attention are financial assets the personal items that immediate family members can distribute as per the wishes of the deceased. In such case, it makes sense to explore naming a beneficiary on financial accounts or in some cases writing a trust instrument in which a trustee takes the place of a probate judge. Even when there is real estate, there are lawful ways to avoid having to go through probate, which can be costly, time-consuming, and inefficient.
If you have significant assets, it is extremely important to ensure that you have an experienced will and estate lawyer ready to work for you. This is because it can be a bit complex when the court starts to get involved. Familial relationships can start to deteriorate if a solid will or trust has not been written in such a way that the wishes of the deceased are spelled out properly and incontrovertibly.
If you own a business, or have some sort of a financial portfolio, hiring an attorney is definitely something you will want to do to ensure that your will or living trust is written correctly. Many investment portfolios require specific paperwork to be submitted in order to ensure that the wishes of the business owner, or portfolio owner, are completed correctly legally. An experienced attorney will have all of the necessary documentation available to file with any investment agencies for government agencies.
It is a common misconception that only elderly people should focus on estate planning. Many young families neglect to do this because they want to put off thinking about the inevitable future. The truth is, however, if you have children it is extremely important to make sure that any guardianship decisions you have made are memorialized in a proper written document so that the children are properly taken care of should something happen to the parents prematurely. Not only should the parents want to name a guardian for their children they may also want to put a trust in place to help provide proper care financially. Making sure that parents have a will put in place in the event that something happens can actually help to ease their minds.
There are also issues of medical care in case of incapacity, which can be handled using a durable power of attorney for healthcare matters. Here in Israel, this used to be possible only by resort to Family Court proceedings, but now it can be done with a properly qualified attorney.
When it comes time to hire an attorney, look for ones you can trust like David Page Law. David Page Law have experienced wills, trusts, and estate and probate lawyers and can help navigate you through the difficult world of estate planning.