What are the Components of an Estate Plan?
A proper estate plan covers four primary documents, each with its own unique purpose and role.
Our estate planning services often include:
- Will — To distribute your property how YOU want after you pass (otherwise, the state’s “default” rules apply to YOUR estate)
- Trust – Protects your assets from probate and creditors to preserve them for your heirs (otherwise, the probate court will distribute them as part of your estate)
- Power of attorney — Allows a person(s) you choose to handle your affairs if you cannot do so yourself (i.e., healthcare decisions, property, bills, taxes, etc.) due to severe illness or incapacity
- Living will — (or advance healthcare directive) Specifies your wishes regarding terminal care (i.e., feed tubes, do not resuscitate orders, etc.).
Why Do I Need a Probate Lawyer?
Navigating the probate process can be a complex and time-consuming endeavor, especially during an already emotionally challenging time. A probate lawyer plays a crucial role in ensuring that your loved one’s assets are distributed according to their wishes and in compliance with state laws.
Here are some key reasons why you might need a probate lawyer:
- Legal Experience: Probate laws can be intricate and vary from state to state. A probate lawyer possesses the legal knowledge necessary to guide you through the process efficiently.
- Asset Evaluation and Appraisal: Identifying, valuing, and appraising assets can be intricate. A probate attorney can help assess the estate’s value accurately, ensuring all assets are accounted for.
- Executor Duties: Executors have significant responsibilities, including managing debts, handling tax matters, and distributing assets. A probate lawyer can assist in fulfilling these duties correctly, reducing the risk of errors and disputes.
- Resolution of Disputes: If disputes arise among heirs or beneficiaries, a probate attorney can mediate or litigate on your behalf, safeguarding your interests and preserving family relationships.
A probate lawyer is essential for simplifying the probate process, ensuring compliance with the law, and protecting your interests and the wishes of your loved ones.