If you’ve never worked with an estate planning attorney before, you may have some questions about the role they play. The reality is it looks a little different from one client to the next. A good estate planning lawyer will tailor their services to each client, providing guidance and expertise however it’s needed.
With that said, there are a few primary ways in which estate planning lawyers assist their clients. In this post, we’ll outline some examples.
What to Expect from an Estate Planning Law Firm
- An estate planning lawyer can help you determine your needs. It’s not at all uncommon for an individual to walk into an estate planning law firm unsure of just what their needs really are. Sometimes, it may be as simple as completing a will. In other instances, there may be a need to establish a trust, or to draft a power of attorney. A skilled attorney will help you think through all the ways in which you can protect your legacy and provide for the people you love.
- An estate planning lawyer helps you develop and implement a strategy. Estate planning isn’t just about filling out some forms. It’s about ensuring you have all the documents you need to secure your estate and to make sure the people you love are all well taken care of. This might mean assembling several estate planning documents. It typically involves tax planning, which helps you preserve the full value of your estate. It can also involve strategizing ways to keep your estate out of probate court. The right attorney will help you consider the big picture, and make sure that all components of your estate plan are working harmoniously.
- Your estate planning lawyer can also help you keep your plan up to date. An estate plan isn’t something you set and forget. It needs to be reviewed and amended at regular intervals. Actually, you should probably update your estate plan roughly once a year. It’s also wise to update it when your life goes through a major change, such as marriage, divorce, having a child, adopting a child, gaining significant assets, losing significant assets, or simply changing your goals. An estate planning lawyer can help you ensure your plan is current.
- An estate planning expert can advise on charitable and legacy giving. Maybe, in addition to providing for your loved ones when you die, you’d also like to leave something behind for a charity or non-profit that you support. A lawyer will be able to counsel you on the right way to make a donation through your estate.
- Estate planning lawyers can also advise on custody and guardianship issues. Zealous to make sure your minor children are properly cared for, should you and your partner both die unexpectedly? That’s something in which an estate planning lawyer can provide real expertise.
- An estate planning lawyer can help you with healthcare directives. Also note that a key part of estate planning is making sure your wishes are carried out respectfully, even if you become medically incapacitated. That typically involves healthcare directives and/or a power of attorney. Again, this is an area in which estate planning lawyers bring real expertise.
Understanding the Role of an Estate Planning Lawyer
These are just a few examples of ways in which estate planning attorneys serve their clients. If you’d like to learn more about how a good law firm can support you in your personal estate planning goals, reach out to Singh Law Firm. We’re happy to talk with you at your next opportunity, and to share more about what an estate planning lawyer can do for you.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do to Protect Your Family?
Creating an estate plan is a highly individualized process. The choices you make and the wishes you articulate will ultimately be much different from your friend’s, your neighbor’s, your brother’s, or your sister’s.
With that said, your estate plan isn’t just about you. It’s ultimately meant to protect your entire family, including those who survive you. Indeed, when you work with an estate planning attorney, one of your first questions should be: What can we do to make sure my family is well taken care of? Here are a few possible answers.
Clarity of Intention
One reason to work with an estate planning lawyer is that it allows you to clearly outline your true wishes and desires, particularly with regard to prickly issues such as end-of-life care.
For example, using advance healthcare directives or a durable power of attorney, you can specify who you’d like to make decisions for you should you ever become incapacitated. And, you can outline your feelings about the use of breathing machines or feeding tubes.
By being clear in your intentions, you can spare your family members from having to agonize over what you really want, or how you wish to be cared for.
Another important component of estate planning is keeping your assets out of probate court.
You may not know it, but without the right estate planning documents, your assets won’t simply default to your next of kin. They’ll get caught up in probate court, which can lead to some real hassles, headaches, and court expenses for your heirs.
What’s more, a will alone isn’t sufficient for keeping your assets out of probate. You’ll need a more robust and comprehensive estate plan, which an estate planning law firm can help you with.
Another consideration to raise with your estate planning lawyer: Tax protections.
Simply put, you want your heirs to receive as much value as possible from your estate. You don’t want its worth to be depleted through onerous taxes.
A common misconception about estate planning is that it’s all about clarifying who gets what. That’s definitely important, but it also matters how you pass those assets down. An estate planning law firm can assist you in distributing assets in a way that minimizes the tax burden, which is ultimately in your heirs’ best interest.
Safeguarding Your Children
One of the most obvious ways in which an estate plan protects your family? It allows you to name the person or the people you wish to be guardians for your children, should you and your spouse or partner both die at the same time.
Again, there are some common misconceptions that need to be combatted. You might assume that guardianship of your kids would automatically go to your siblings or your parents, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Indeed, if you don’t specify it in your will, guardianship of your kids can get wrapped up in probate court, and it’s possible your true wishes won’t be honored. Make sure you and your estate planning attorney talk at length about what’s best for your children.
Work with an Estate Planning Law Firm
The bottom line is that estate planning is a great way to clarify your wishes, but it’s not only about you! It’s also an important mechanism by which you can take care of your family, even after you die.
If you’re ready to meet with an estate planning attorney, and to do what’s best for your spouse and/or kids, reach out to Singh Law Firm right away.
Estate planning is about preparing for the future. Through the estate planning process, you can outline your wishes for any healthcare decisions that you wish to be made on your behalf, should you become medically incapacitated. You can specify your wishes as to how your monetary assets are allocated upon your death. And you can ensure that your minor children are cared for, even if something happens to you and your spouse or co-parent. These are just a few examples of the issues addressed through the estate planning process.
An estate planning attorney is a legal professional whose job is to consult with you about your wishes, then help you create a legally-sound estate plan that will enable you to achieve those wishes. Naturally, the specifics of the estate planning lawyer’s job can vary from one client to the next, as individual wishes and needs can vary.
The Role of an Estate Planning Lawyer
A few basic examples of what an estate planning attorney can assist you with include:
- Creating a will
- Establishing a trust
- Naming your beneficiaries
- Appointing a trustee
- Establishing a financial or medical power of attorney
- Finding ways to avoid or reduce estate taxes
- Finding ways to avoid probate court
Now, let’s take a look at some of these functions in greater detail.
Planning for All Contingencies
It is easy to assume that estate planning is all about determining “who gets what.” Actually, one of the main reasons to seek an estate planning law firm is that they can help you clarify your wishes about end-of-life care. For example, an estate planning law firm can help you establish the following documents:
- Advance health care directive; allows you to state the kinds of life support services you do or do not wish to receive, should you become medically incapacitated.
- Medical power of attorney; allows you to appoint someone to be your legal representative, and to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Financial power of attorney; allows you to appoint someone to make financial and business decisions for you, should you become incapacitated.
Minimizing Estate Tax Burdens
Another critical aspect of estate planning is reducing the amount of taxation to which your estate is subject. In doing so, you can ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries receive the maximum value of the assets you leave to them. An estate planning lawyer will help with tax planning measures that may include the use of different kinds of trusts.
One of the most common estate planning errors is having a will in place, but nothing else. A will almost always ends up in probate court, which can lead to legal hassles, headaches, and expenses for your heirs and beneficiaries. Additionally, in probate court, the contents of your estate are made public.
Through the use of trusts and other estate planning documents, your attorney can help you avoid the frustrations of probate court, and also safeguard your confidentiality. Indeed, one of the main functions of an estate planning firm is to help clients steer clear of probate.
Meet with an Estate Planning Lawyer in Fremont
As you consider your estate planning needs and wishes, we invite you to meet with an advanced estate planning attorney from Singh Law Firm. Our lawyers boast decades of experience navigating estate planning law in the state of California. We would love to meet with you, learn more about your needs and goals, and help you put the right estate plan in place to meet those goals.
To speak with an expert in estate law, connect with Singh Law Firm today.
What Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Do for You?
But what specifically does estate planning entail… or rather, what can an estate planning lawyer do for you? It all depends on where you are in life, and the goals you have for yourself and for the people you love. A good estate planning attorney will listen carefully as you explain what matters to you, then help you develop and implement a plan to achieve your desired outcomes.
Here are a few specific ways in which someone with knowledge of estate planning law can help you.
Providing for Your Family, Even After Your Death
Nobody knows exactly how many days they will have on this Earth. What we know is that we all die eventually… and when your time comes, you’ll want to ensure that your family is well cared for. An estate planning law firm can help you develop a will or trust, ensuring that your assets go where you want them to, and that your minor children go to the best guardian.
Avoiding Probate Court
Without an experienced estate planning law professional, you run the risk of your assets ending up in probate court. (If all you have is a will, probate is almost inevitable.) Probate court is a time-consuming and frustrating experience that your heirs will have to contend with. It also means the contents of your estate will be made public. A skilled lawyer can help you avoid this cumbersome experience, and maintain your confidentiality.
Something else to think about is the estate tax. Simply put, you need a tax plan in place so that your assets do not lose too much of their value. An estate planning law firm can help you develop a strategy to minimize your tax burden, which in turn means more wealth handed down to your heirs and beneficiaries.
Enacting Your Healthcare Wishes
Another aspect of the estate planning process is making certain that your medical wishes are upheld, even in instances of incapacitation. For example, what happens if an accident or an illness leaves you in a coma?
Through the estate planning process, you can make known your wishes about feeding tubes, breathing machines, and other life support technology. And, you can also appoint a trusted friend or family member to serve as your legal representative in any healthcare decisions. Ask your lawyer about advanced healthcare directives and/or powers of attorney.
Meeting the Needs of Your Family
A good lawyer will address your personal needs, but also the needs of your family members. For example, what happens when your child turns 18? Among other things, you will no longer be able to make healthcare decisions on their behalf; if they are in an accident, you will have no legal standing to choose their care. Your estate planning lawyer can help you put the necessary documentation, such as a power of attorney, into place.
Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney Today
Ready to schedule an appointment with an estate planning lawyer in Fremont? We’d love to meet you here at Singh Law Firm, and to tell you more about how our estate law team can help you achieve all your goals. To schedule a consultation, contact Singh Law Firm at your next opportunity.
Brief Introduction to Living Will and Trust Lawyers
There’s more to estate planning than you might think. To a lot of people, estate planning is all about putting a will in place, ensuring your assets are properly distributed to beneficiaries upon your death. But that’s by no means a comprehensive view of the estate planning process. It’s important to take a truly holistic view, which often means having a living will, trust, and power of attorney.
Putting together a truly robust estate plan may require you to work with a firm of living trust and wills lawyers; in this post, we’ll explain why.
Why a Will is Not Enough
First, let’s consider why a will, however important, is ultimately insufficient.
A will is all about clarifying how you’d like your assets to be distributed upon your death. While every estate plan should include a will, it’s not always going to be enough to keep your assets out of probate. And, it doesn’t tackle questions about your end-of-life care, or how you’d like to be treated should you ever become medically incapacitated.
For those things, it’s critical to consult with a team of living trust and will lawyers, who can augment your will with other crucial documents.
What to Expect from a Will and Trust Attorney
Let’s focus on three particular documents you should discuss with your will and trust attorney.
What happens if accident or injury ever leaves you unable to speak for yourself, or to give informed consent on medical treatment? For example, what happens if you are in a temporary coma or a persistent vegetative state?
A living will is a legal document in which you can clearly outline your wishes, ensuring that both your medical providers and your loved ones have clarity about what kind of life support services you do and do not want in these scary situations.
Another document to ask about is a trust. While trusts are mistakenly associated with high affluence, we’d actually recommend them to just about anyone, and for a simple reason: Putting your assets into a trust can help you avoid probate court and also minimize your tax burden.
However, you’ll need to work with an attorney who can help you both develop the trust and also manage it. And, you’ll want to seek guidance on selecting the right person to serve as your trustee.
Power of Attorney
One more consideration is incorporating a power of attorney into your estate plan. Specifically, you might consider both a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.
A medical power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions for you, should you ever become medically incapacitated or unresponsive.
A financial power of attorney works similarly; it is a document that allows you to appoint a legal representative to make financial and business decisions for you, should you ever become medically incapacitated or unresponsive.
Both can be essential for protecting yourself against uncertainty and asserting your wishes even when you cannot physically speak. They can also provide some peace of mind for your family members.
Work with a Living Trust Attorney
The bottom line: Estate planning can be complex, and it’s always important to seek the right legal guidance.
If you have questions about living wills, trusts, or powers of attorney, or if you’re ready to speak about the specifics of your estate plan, reach out to Singh Law Firm.
Our attorneys are standing by to consult with you on all of your estate planning needs. Contact us today to speak with a living trust attorney.
Reach out to Singh Law Firm to learn more.