The Finance Blogger


Hire a Lawyer for Estate Planning

Hire a Lawyer for Estate PlanningThere are a number of reasons that you will want to hire a lawyer for estate planning purposes. The first and most obvious one is to prepare a will. A will that will distribute your assets in the manner that you feel will be best. In addition to a will, most people will also arrange for a living will to be prepared. A living will tells your family how you want to be looked after when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. While this is not technically part of estate planning most lawyers will encourage their clients to prepare this will as well. If you do nothing else, make sure that you have completed these two steps prior to starting estate planning.

Most lawyers will encourage clients to plan their estates to minimize taxes at the time of death which includes probate taxes. Although they are not accountants, a good tax lawyer can assist clients with taking the right steps to protect themselves. This includes taking the steps needed to reduce taxes at the time of death. They will also provide guidance regarding some of the risks associated with these steps. Also ways to avoid any major problems based on your personal situation.

Hire a Lawyer for Estate Planning

The complexity of your estate will determine what professionals will be needed. They will assist you in planning your estates probate and your overall estate plan. Most people have a home, a car, personal effects and their investments. All of which are subject to probate unless they are jointly owned in which case they just move to the surviving spouse or family member with no probate necessary. Registered investments will be taxed on the day of death unless they are transferring to a surviving spouse. Again check with the experts were you live since various countries and even states may treat these issues differently.

A common way to minimize probate taxes which your lawyer will discuss is to place the assets in joint ownership with your surviving spouse or with another family member. The client will retain ownership and management of the asset until such time they pass away. At that time all assets that are jointly owned would transfer with no taxes to the remaining owner. Safeguards need to be in place to protect the client. You want to avoid the assets being sold when they are no longer able to make their own decisions.

Complex Estates

Estates can become very complicated especially if they have many properties and assets of different kinds. Plans should be drawn up to manage the transition to new owners or to have the assets sold to maximize their value for the estate. The executor should be carefully chosen to ensure that he or she can carry out all of the instructions of the will. The executor and your lawyer will work closely to ensure that this occurs as planned.

Hire a lawyer for estate planning and possibly also accountants to make sure that all tax laws are met while at the same time the taxes that must be paid are minimized. Some financial advisers also provide this function as well. Estate planning should be arranged and completed while the client is still of sound mind and can make the necessary decisions.

A word of caution. Anyone who charges a fee and makes more money if you follow their advice should be suspect. If they prepare recommendations which if followed generates income for them, get a second opinion. We suggest getting a second opinion from someone who will not benefit from the transaction. This will make sure that it is really in the financial best interest of the person the estate plan is being developed for. There are just too many advisers who will recommend plans that make them money and cost you a great deal.

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