What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do? 

Even though you are able to make your own end-of-life plans when it comes to your estate, there are a number of things an estate planning attorney can help with. An estate plan is more than just your assets and who gets what when you are gone. Even if your wishes seem straightforward, making sure that those wishes can actually happen legally can be more complicated than you think. Working with an estate planning attorney can make sure that everything goes smoothly. 

Estate attorneys, who can also be called probate attorneys or estate law attorneys, are there to help in the estate planning process to put wishes for death and incapacity into writing. These lawyers know the correct documents that are needed and can help present options to make sure that goals are carried out correctly. Alabama estate attorneys have knowledge of both state and federal laws that could affect your estate and will help educate you on the process. 

Make Your Will and Update It

It’s possible for people to create wills using online templates and filling in the blanks instead of working with an estate planning attorney. However, most people have families, assets, and lives that don’t just fit into a mass-produced generic template. If you need to change the template or form then you run the risk of invalidating not just that part of the will but also the entire will. An estate planning attorney knows how to create a will designed to your specific circumstances and have it stand up legally. Not only can estate planning attorneys help you with your will, but they can also be a great resource to help when allocating assets to beneficiaries. Lawyers can be neutral third-party resources and listen to wants and offer advice when needed. 

Avoid Estate and Probate Taxes

If you want to avoid putting your estate through probate then there are many ways a lawyer can help you do it with the use of death beneficiaries, joint property ownership, or with gifts. One of the most common ways to avoid both estate and probate taxes is by using a trust. Just like with will, there are templates for this, but if you want to make sure that you don’t have any issues then it’s best to work with a professional so your entire estate plan isn’t invalidated. Even if you don’t have a trust, it’s still possible to avoid probate with the help of an experienced attorney if your assets are designated correctly. If your loved ones do have to enter the probate process then an attorney can also help them in navigating the legal system and prepare them for the process.

Help People Identify Which Legal Instruments Best Work for Them

In certain situations, a simple will can be enough. In other situations, there could be several different types of trusts that may be needed. Estate lawyers work on advising their clients on what exactly the estate plan requires. Estate planning lawyers can help with other legal instruments that can be helpful for long-term planning, such as durable powers of attorney or living wills. 

Knowing When to Update the Estate Plan

No matter how air-tight an estate plan is, it may not work in the future as circumstances are changing. If you have a change in your location, your assets, or your family then you may need to make updates to your estate plan. The last thing you are probably thinking about when you are moving to another state or adding a family member is rewriting your will so a good attorney can keep your will up to date when it may otherwise be overlooked. 

Ensure Health Wishes Are Carried Out by a Person You Trust 

Estate planning attorneys can help advise a client on the best person to carry out important health wishes. Many times, a family member is chosen and that person may be too emotional to see things clearly. The role may be better suited to a close friend who can be a bit more removed from the situation. Attorneys are great third-party resources to help guide you on who the right choice is for important roles. 

Help Clients Protect Their Families and Legacies for the Future

Having a well-rounded estate plan can be important for everyone. This plan includes your will, durable power of attorney, list of beneficiaries, life insurance, advance medical directive, and trust. The entire plan is important for ensuring that loved ones don’t have to jump through excessive hopes when you die. The main goal of an estate planning attorney is to guarantee that the legal documents have all the details properly laid out to make things easier when you pass. 

They Keep Up with the Laws

Your state’s probate code is updated every year and estate planning laws are constantly changing. Only an estate planning attorney will know the latest rules in order to make sure you are following them. 

Everyone’s financial situations are different but most people can benefit from working with an estate planning attorney, even if the estate is simple. There are some common situations that may require you to work with an estate lawyer instead of just doing things on your own. If you own a small business then you want to have a plan for business succession. If you have out-of-state assets or property, it can get tricky with two different tax codes and other legal requirements. This is also true for any foreign assets or property. If you plan on leaving assets to someone who isn’t a citizen then you may also want to work with an estate planning attorney since certain tasks, such as getting a tax ID, may not be possible for a non-citizen to do. If you have a blended family then you will need to work with a lawyer since stepparents, stepchildren, or half-siblings may not automatically receive any assets unless you take the steps necessary to make sure that they do. If you want to set up an irrevocable trust, working with an attorney is best since it can’t be changed or closed once you create it. 

You may be interested in: Who Are Probate Lawyers And What Do They Do?