DO I NEED TO CONSULT AN ATTORNEY WHILE PREPARING MY ESTATE PLAN?
The short answer is yes. Only an experienced estate planning lawyer will be able to assess your personal situation and recommend the best structure of estate planning for you. Such a lawyer will also be familiar with the laws in your state and create an estate plan that is sure to be valid. Basic internet searches and standardize templates from a website cannot do that for you.
WHO THEY ARE
An estate planning lawyer has the education and experience to advise clients on preparing their affairs for incapacity and death. Estate planning itself is the process of managing a person’s estate during their life in preparation for death, and eventually after death. Since estate planning is not on the minds of most people today, it is best to hire a lawyer who specializes in estate planning.
Any lawyer who practices the law must be certified to do so. To become a lawyer, one must pass the bar exam in the state they wish to practice in. This is important information to know because an estate planning lawyer must actually be a lawyer first and foremost! The names of lawyers in your state who have passed the bar exam are public information, so with a bit of research, you can confirm that the person creating your estate plan is a bar-certified lawyer.
WHAT THEY DO
There are many varied aspects to creating an estate plan and they differ from person to person. The right lawyer should take the time to learn about their client before suggesting what sort of estate plan would be best. Common topics of discussion include:
- Marital Status
- Family Members
- Financial Situation
- Health Status
Only once the lawyer has learned about the client, as well as the client’s futures wishes, can the lawyer truly recommend the best estate plan structure.
An experienced estate planning lawyer should include the following, at a minimum, in an estate plan:
- Last Will and Testament
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Directives:
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- HIPPA Authorization
If you have a lot of assets, an estate planning lawyer may suggest you create a Living Trust. A Living Trust is an entity created during the Grantor’s lifetime to hold and manage assets. There are many advantages to creating a trust, including avoiding probate.