Estate planning attorneys, also know and will lawyers or trust attorneys, are experienced professionals who focus their practice of law on wills, trusts, estates, and probate.
It is a common misconception that all lawyers practice the same type of law. This couldn’t be further from truth.
Just like doctors specialize due to the complexity of medicine, lawyers also focus their practices in different areas due to the complexity of law.
What can an estate planning attorney help you with?
Estate planning attorneys advise clients on the best way to transfer their assets to their loved ones after they pass away.
Additionally, comprehensive estate planning includes planning for situations where you may become incapacitated.
It’s actually very common for someone to become incapacitated before they die.
However, if you don’t have the proper legal documents in place, this could prevent your family from being able to properly care for you and for themselves.
What documents can an estate planning lawyer help me draft?
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are some of the most common documents people have an estate planning attorney help them draft:
- Last will and testament – having a will in place allows you to specify who you want to receive your property after you pass.
Additionally, you can assign a guardian for your children if they are under 18.
Lastly, you can name someone you trust to settle your estate and distribute your assets to your heirs.
- Revocable living trust – like a will, a living trust allows you to specify who you want to receive your assets after you pass.
However, unlike a will, a living trust allows you to avoid probate court. Probate court can be a long, stressful, and expensive process for your family to endure after losing a loved one.
One of the main reasons people choose a trust over a will is to avoid probate.
- Irrevocable trust – these types of trusts are often used when planning for a family member with special needs.
Some people also use them for certain tax and credit advantages as well. These types of trust are very complex so it is best to speak with an estate planning attorney first.
- Financial power of attorney – also known as a durable power of attorney, these documents give the power to someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf.
These become useful for situations where you may be incapacitated and unable to manage your own finances.
- Medical power of attorney – these are similar to a financial power of attorney, but instead of financial decision making, they give power to someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Again, these are useful for situations where you may be incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your own medical care.
It is important that these documents are drafted and signed properly in order to ensure they are legally binding. In order to make sure they are done correctly, it is best to work with an estate planning lawyer.