Steps Involved in Estate Planning and Why You Need an Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning basically entails deciding how your possessions, or “estate,” will be managed if you become disabled or pass away. You won’t be able to determine who will receive your things if you don’t have an estate plan. You typically have control over how your assets are distributed among your family members if you have an estate plan. The estate plan arranges your affairs and records your desires and intentions in writing.

State law and the probate courts will handle all of this on your behalf after your death if you fail to plan it while you are still capable and alive. It’s unlikely that the outcomes will represent your preferences or serve your family’s needs. Fortunately, you can prevent all of these by creating an estate plan with the help of an estate attorney.

Steps in the estate planning process

Step 1: Decide on your estate planning objectives.

Before beginning your estate planning, you must first take your time and identify the objectives you hope to accomplish. Is it to guarantee your family’s financial security? Do you wish to determine who receives your estate’s assets? Is it to appoint guardians for any of your dependents? Or do you want to decide how your company will be run going forward?

Remember that estate planning involves more than just drafting a Last Will and Testament. Additionally, a clear grasp of what you want your estate plan to accomplish will help you formulate objectives that reflect your personal preferences.

Step 2: Make a list of your estate 

Knowing what you are working with is the next step after deciding on your goals. To do this, you must list all your assets and liabilities to determine how much of your estate you can leave to your family.

Making a list of your debts is a good place to start. Debt is money you owe to other people or organizations. Your assets will be utilized to pay off any outstanding debts before being distributed to your family if you have any. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider your debt while deciding how much money to leave to your loved ones. Your debt may include unpaid credit card balances, auto loans, mortgages, student loans, and other obligations.

Then you can make a list of your assets. Your possessions that have monetary value are referred to as assets. In your estate plan, you can choose who will receive your possessions after your passing: family, friends, and charities. Your assets may be material, such as real estate, homes, cars, and people. Intangible assets include bonds, equities, retirement plans, life insurance, etc.

Step 3: Make a Will

Making your Will is a critical next step. The Will enables you to communicate with and direct the distribution of your estate after your passing. The estate planning document with the highest power is often the last will and testament. Your Will serves as a guide for the probate court when dividing up your estate. You can name a guardian in your last will and testament if you have little children.

Step 4: Make a power of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one or more people the authority to handle your finances and property decisions while looking out for your best interests. The person you choose to manage your finances is known as an attorney-in-fact, and he or she can take care of things like your banking, sign checks from your account, buy or sell real estate on your behalf, etc.

Step 5: Keep a record of your plans and let your representatives know

The last step is to give your attorney-in-fact and representatives copies of your legal documents, such as your last will and testament, trusts, insurance policies, etc. When it comes to keeping these important documents, keep them in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box, bank, or trustee business. Give your representatives the keys or codes they need to access these documents.

Why you need an estate planning attorney for your estate planning

Here are reasons you need an estate planning lawyer when it comes to matters to do with estate planning

  • To help you update and modify your estate plan when necessary

 Estate plans may change over time. For this reason, no matter what happens in your life—a divorce, a child’s birth, a marriage, a change in assets, a change in health, or even a transfer out of state—you should aim to update your estate plan regularly.

Usually, you are not considering updating your estate plan when these circumstances occur because you are too busy with a new baby or a cross-country move. After you’ve settled down, you can get in touch with a respectable estate planning lawyer to have your documents suitably amended.

  • To protect your family and legacy for the future

Your Will, a beneficiary list, an advance medical directive, a durable power of attorney (in case you become incapacitated), life insurance, and a trust are all essential parts of a comprehensive estate plan. Your loved ones won’t have any additional work to do when you pass away because of this thorough plan. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will help guarantee that all the details are correctly disclosed in these legal documents.

Consulting with an estate attorney can guarantee that your legacy lasts for decades by creating the necessary paperwork to fulfill your final desires, funeral arrangements, and family customs and values.

  • It can help prevent the lengthy and expensive probate process

The selected heirs and beneficiaries split up the property of the deceased through a court process called “probate.” The probate process is exceedingly costly, time-consuming (up to two years), and quite public. Anyone wishing to come may acquire copies of the Will and related documents from the courthouse.

Luckily, probate isn’t frequently necessary, even if you don’t have trust. You can avoid probate if you have beneficiary designations on all your assets. Sadly, if an organization rejects the affidavit, your heirs may be forced to initiate probate proceedings or bring legal action against the institution.

Hiring an estate planning lawyer can help you avoid probate by ensuring your assets are awarded correctly. This lawyer can help your loved ones navigate the court system and get ready in case they have to take part in the probate procedure.

Final thoughts

If you want to protect your loved ones as well as your estate, it’s good to have an estate plan. It will outline how your possessions will be divided if you are no longer there or incapacitated. With the help of an estate planning attorney, you can craft a valid estate plan that will be respected by the court or any relevant party.