Estate Planning Lawyer

What Is an Estate Planning Lawyer?

An estate planning lawyer is a type of law professional that can help you create specific plans for your estate. Also known as estate planning attorneys, these individuals are aware of the correct documents to use when putting your wishes for incapacity and death into writing. 

Most importantly, they understand the state and federal laws that impact your estate and can ensure that your goals are properly executed.

Estate planning attorneys can help you every step of the way during the estate planning process. After your demise, they can continue to guide your beneficiaries through the probate process. 

Things an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You With

Estate planning lawyers can help you with a wide range of things. Here are some of the most common services that they provide:

Creating a Will and Identifying Beneficiaries

One of the most important things that an estate planning lawyer can help you with is creating a will. This document will outline your wishes for how your assets should be distributed after you die.

When it comes to making your will, you want to make sure that it fits your specific needs. A standard template from the internet will rarely be a good fit, and a handwritten will can often lead to probate litigation.

An estate planning lawyer can assist in creating a Will that reduces the likelihood of going to court.

These attorneys can provide impartial advice and help you identify who will benefit from your estate. These people or organizations who will inherit specific assets after your death are your beneficiaries.

Creating a Living Will

An estate planning lawyer can answer any questions about health care directives and help you create a living will. A living will clearly state your preferences regarding treatment, pain management and other medical decisions.

The purpose of a living will is to ensure that your wishes are honored should you become mentally incapacitated. In this document, you can express all medical decisions, especially end-of-life situations. 

By creating a living will, you are providing family members or close friends with advance notice of your intentions, so there is no uncertainty later on.

Creating a Trust

Aside from wills, trusts are another excellent way to ensure that your assets are passed on to your loved ones in the way you desire.

Establishing a trust involves a third person, a trustee, who will manage the trust assets for your beneficiaries. Unlike wills which focus primarily on the distribution of assets after death, trusts concentrate on protecting and growing the assets until beneficiaries are eligible to receive their inheritance. 

Working with an estate planning lawyer can help create a trust that meets your unique goals and needs. 

Creating an Overall Estate Plan

An estate planning attorney often helps clients in a more comprehensive way. Their services include assessing an individual’s estate, asking about preferences or goals, and giving advice on the best options. 

If you do not have an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to state law. This situation may not be what you want, and it could result in unnecessary taxes and expenses for your loved ones.

When Should You Hire an Estate Planning Lawyer?

You should consider hiring an estate planning lawyer if any of the statements below apply to you:

  • You have a complex financial situation – You may need to set up a trust or take other measures to ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish.
  • You own a business – You will need to make sure that your business is secure even in the event of your death.
  • You have young children or disabled family members– Estate planning can help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of if something happens to you.
  • You have a disability – Estate planning can help you ensure that your assets are used to support you if you cannot do so yourself.
  • You have a large estate – You will want to minimize taxes and expenses so that your loved ones can inherit as much as possible.
  • You have foreign property or assets – If you pass on an asset to someone in another state or country, it is important to understand the legal requirements for doing so. 
  • You want to leave a legacy – An estate planning lawyer can help you create a plan that meets your philanthropic goals.

How to Choose an Estate Planning Lawyer

You can take steps to ensure that you choose the best estate planning lawyer for your needs. Here are a few things to consider:

How_to_Choose_An_Estate_Planning_Lawyer

Create a List of Prospects

Start by creating a list of potential estate planning lawyers. You can get referrals from friends, family, or financial advisors. You can also find an attorney by checking the websites of your local, county, and state bar associations. 

There are many different types of attorneys, so it is important to find one who specializes in estate law if you want the best possible estate plan. 

Even if another attorney works with estates, they may not have the same level of expertise as an estate law specialist. 

Talk to Each Prospect and Ask the Right Questions

After you have a list of potential prospects, the next step is to call each one and ask questions. These calls will help you get more information about their practice and what they can do for you.

Here are some important questions to ask:

  • How long have you been practicing estate law?
  • Do you specialize in estate law, or do you also work with other areas of law?
  • What is your experience with estate planning? Do you have experience with trusts, wills, probate, or tax law?
  • Can you provide examples of estate plans you have created?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • Can you provide a list of references from clients who have used your services?
  • Do you actually execute the estate plan?
  • Do you review the estate plan periodically to ensure it is still up-to-date?
  • How long does it take you to complete an estate plan?
  • What is included in your estate planning services?

Aside from the questions listed above, it is also important to know if you will be working with only one specific person when dealing with an estate lawyer from a large law firm. 

This information can help you build a good working relationship with your chosen person.

Check Their Fees and Certifications

To find a good estate lawyer, you will want to make sure you understand all of the fees associated with their services. 

This way, you can be sure you are getting the best possible deal. Most estate lawyers typically charge by the hour. Others charge a flat fee for specific services, depending upon where they are located and the complexity of the work involved.

It is also important to make sure that the estate lawyer you are working with is properly certified. 

Check whether he is an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP), Chartered Trust and Estate Planner (CTEP), or Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA). These are the three primary professional designations for estate planning lawyers.

You should also ask if the lawyer is a member of any estate planning councils or associations, such as the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC)

These memberships indicate that the lawyer is serious about estate planning and stays up-to-date on the latest news and developments.

Make Your Choice

After you have interviewed all of the prospects on your list, it is time to decide.

You will want to choose an attorney you feel comfortable with and with the experience and qualifications you are looking for.

Estate planning is a complex process, so you want to be sure you have someone who knows what they are doing and can help you create the best possible plan for your unique situation.

You should also make sure that the attorney you choose is someone you can work with on a long-term basis. 

Estate planning is not a one-time process. Instead, it is something that needs to be revisited and updated as your life circumstances change.

Estate Planning Lawyer vs Probate Lawyer

You may be wondering if you need an estate lawyer or a probate lawyer. The answer to this question depends on your needs.

Estate planning lawyers help people make a plan for dividing up their estate and assets before they die. Probate lawyers oversee the validation and administration of a will in probate court after a person has passed away.

Estate Planning Lawyer

An estate planning lawyer can help you plan for your assets and estate in the event of your death. This plan may involve creating a Will and identifying your beneficiaries. 

With their understanding of state and federal laws, estate planning lawyers can decrease the chances that your estate plan will be contested or invalidated in probate court.

Other things that estate planning attorneys can help you with include creating trusts, setting up guardianships for minors, and helping you plan for long-term care. 

Estate planning lawyers can also help you create a living will that informs your loved ones of your preferences during life and death situations. For instance, you can state your wishes or opinions about being placed on life support when seriously ill. 

Probate Lawyer

If you have an estate plan in place, your assets might be distributed without going through the probate court.

However, if you do not have a will or if your will needs to be validated by the court, your estate will be handled by a probate lawyer.

Probate is the process of validating a will before a judge. The probate lawyer will guide the estate administrator through this process or represent a party in probate litigation when there is a challenge to the will. 

These attorneys may also be hired to find, inventory, and secure the estate of the decedent, including savings and checking accounts, personal possessions, real estate, and vehicles. 

Other services could include identifying and collecting life insurance policies, determining the validity of debts, and advising on the repayment of these debts.

Estate_Planning_Lawyers_vs._Probate_Lawyers

Final Thoughts

Estate planning is an important process that everyone should go through. An estate planning lawyer can help you to create a plan for your estate so that your family knows what to do in the event of your death.

An estate planning lawyer offers various services, such as drafting wills, creating trusts, setting up guardianships for minors, and preparing for long-term care. 

Estate planning lawyers work in the same field as probate lawyers. 

However, there are several key differences. For instance, if you do not have a will or if your will needs to be validated by the court, a probate lawyer can help you to navigate this process. 

Choosing the right estate planning lawyer is an important decision. You should interview several lawyers and ask about their experience, fees, and whether they have any specialties. 

Once you have chosen the right lawyer for you, be sure to keep in communication with them so that your estate plan can be updated as needed.

Estate planning is critical to ensuring that your wishes are fulfilled after death.

FAQs

An estate planning lawyer is a type of law professional that can help you create specific plans for your estate, including the distribution of assets and the preparation of health care directives.
Estate planning lawyers offer various services to help individuals and families plan for the distribution of their assets after death. These services include creating wills, trusts and an overall estate plan, covering items like guardianships for minors or charitable donations.
Estate planning is an important process that everyone should go through. You may want to hire an estate planning lawyer if you want to leave a legacy or have a complex financial situation involving a business, large estate, or foreign property and assets. An estate planning lawyer can also help plan for the care of young children or disabled family members.
When choosing an estate planning lawyer, you should interview several lawyers and ask about their experience, fees, and specialties. Once you have selected the right lawyer for you, be sure to keep in communication with them so that your estate plan can be updated as needed.
Estate planning lawyers help individuals and families plan for the distribution of their assets after death. Probate lawyers help to settle the estate of someone who has died and distribute their assets according to the terms of their Will.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.