Role of Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning attorneys serve an important function before and during the administration of an estate. With a well-crafted estate plan, a person can be sure that their estate will pass to their chosen beneficiaries in accordance with their needs. An estate planning and elder law attorney can also help protect the client’s interests in the event injury, illness, or age prevents them from making decisions on their own behalf. Read on for a discussion of the vital role that estate planning lawyers play in probate and estate matters. If you need help identifying the proper heirs while administering an estate, call a qualified forensic genealogist.
Designating Beneficiaries of the Estate
When most people think of estate planning, they think of drafting a last will and testament. That is, indeed, a core function of the estate planning lawyer: helping clients draft and execute wills. The will is only one legal tool in the estate planning arsenal, however. Your estate planning lawyer may help you set up trusts of various kinds, along with investment accounts and other legal devices to ensure that your property passes to your beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes.
Without a will, trust, or other mechanism in place to handle your assets, your property will pass to your heirs under the state’s intestacy laws. Disputes between family members can quickly arise, estranged relatives can show up out of the blue, and the matter can quickly become complex, confrontational, time-consuming, and expensive. It’s much better to avoid probate where possible. An estate planning attorney will help you devise a plan that clearly and comprehensively accounts for your estate, ensuring that everything passes as smoothly as possible and with minimal conflict.
Setting Up Contingency Plans for Illness and Age
An estate and elder law attorney can also help you prepare for your latter years. An estate planning attorney can help you set up a durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and otherwise ensure that someone you trust is ready to make decisions on your behalf should illness, injury, or age render you incapable of making decisions on your own behalf.
Your attorney can also help ensure you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits, Medicaid, and other government programs. You may benefit from trusts that provide you with disposable income without affecting your eligibility for needs-based programs. You may simply want to have an established procedure in place for your long-term care, should the need arise. Your estate planning and elder law attorney can help you set yourself up to have your needs met without complication.
Limiting Tax Impact
Estate planning attorneys can also help you pass as much of your estate as possible to your chosen beneficiaries while incurring minimal taxes. Estate taxes can take a substantial sum of your estate if left unchecked; your estate planning attorney can help you determine whether and how to distribute your assets while you are still alive, and how best to reduce your estate’s tax obligations for assets distributed after your passing.
Assisting With Probate and Estate Administration
An estate planning attorney can help any designated estate administrator proceed through the probate process or avoid probate entirely. Should any putative heir or beneficiary challenge the will or otherwise contest the administration of the estate, an estate planning attorney can represent the estate or an interested party in the dispute.
If you’re an estate administrator in need of dedicated assistance identifying and locating missing heirs to an estate and for determination of heirship proceedings, or heir research services in order to satisfy due diligence requirements, contact a seasoned and thorough forensic genealogist at Von Langen, LLC at 800-525-7722.