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Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate Planners | Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

What exactly are estate planning attorneys and what do they do?

Estate planning attorneys specialize in areas of the law that affect the property that a person leaves when he dies. Estate planning attorneys assist their clients in making decisions about how their estate should be handled while they are living in order to plan for their eventual death. One of the main areas estate planning attorneys will focus on is the tax consequences of different courses of action. Naturally, the main goal will be to minimize the amount of taxes that your estate will owe after your death, or perhaps the goal will be to avoid taxes altogether if your estate will be near the cut-off point for owing taxes. Since you probably prefer your money be given to your heirs than the government, tax consequences are a major focus of estate planning attorneys.

Estate planning attorneys can help you with major elements of estate planning such as drawing up your will, deciding whether a will or a living trust would be a better solution for you, draft powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney, or coordinate your nontaxable gifts so as to minimize the value of your estate.

One of the methods that the estate planning attorneys will likely discuss with you is what size you expect your estate to be when you die. You will need to explain all assets that you have and all property to which you have title. Then you will discuss who or what organization you want to leave all or part of your estate to when you die. Then, with a clear picture of the exact figures and wishes, the estate planning attorneys will start working to minimize or eliminate your estimated estate taxes. That is the main purpose of engaging the services of estate planning attorneys, to make sure your estate is left to your heirs and not the government.

Probate is the process of presenting a person.s will before a court of law and the court declaring that the will is valid and enforceable. The will becomes a matter of public record during probate, so all the details are available to anyone who goes to the courthouse to look up the will in the public records. Estate planning attorneys will present the will to the court.

A person is designated as executor of the estate by the will. This person could be a relative, friend or estate planning attorneys. The executor is responsible for paying any debts owed by the deceased person and distributing the assets and property according to the details outlined in the will. After the executor has finalized all the requirements specified in the will, the court will close the estate upon proof that all debts are paid and property distributed correctly. This ends the probate process.

How to Choose Estate Planning Attorneys

Thinking about estate planning can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. No one likes to dwell on the fact that one day each of us is going to die. However, it is highly advisable to make certain that those friends or family that you would like to pass on your money an property to will have no problems claiming your assets after your death. Dying intestate, or without a will, makes your passing much harder on your family and friends. There are many more steps to the process of finalizing your estate if you die without a will, so everyone should consider engaging in some kind of estate planning. One of the things to do is consult estate planning attorneys who specialize in such things. These are a few tips to help you in searching for estate planning attorneys who will be right for you.

1. Educate yourself

Before choosing estate planning attorneys, read up on the basics of estate planning on the internet or in books or articles. You don.t have to become an expert on the fine details of revocable versus irrevocable trusts, but at least get a general overview of what estate planning involves. Your estate planning attorneys will advise you and make suggestions about what steps you should take in planning for your death, but the final decisions will be up to you.

2. Ask for a referral

Ask around. Friends, family, and coworkers may be able to recommend estate planning attorneys they have used, and it can relieve your mind to start with the recommendation of someone whose judgment you trust. If you already use the services of another professional, such as an accountant, ask him for a referral. Accountants most likely have dealt with several estate planning attorneys personally or on behalf of clients, so they can probably give you the names of several estate planning attorneys they know.

3. Talk to more than one estate planning attorney

Choose several estate planning attorneys to meet before making your decision. Ask about their education, experience, any professional designations they have and what those designations mean. Discuss the options available for estate planning and the attorney.s opinion of these various options.

4. Find out who else will work on your account

Find out if any assistants or coworkers will also work on your account and if you will have contact with them. Ask to meet these people.

5. Understand how you will pay

Make sure you know how the estate planning attorneys will be compensated for their services. There are many different ways for estate planning attorneys to earn money from your account. The most common ways are to charge hourly fees, a flat fee, or to earn a certain percent of the size of your estate. You need to know up front how much you will be expected to pay in fees.

6. Trust your judgment

Feeling confident in your estate planning attorneys is extremely important. Since these people will know many personal financial details about you, you should feel comfortable talking to them and revealing this information. Were the estate planning attorneys easy to talk to? Did they try to dominate the conversation? Did you feel comfortable during the meeting? If you feel uneasy or uncomfortable when you meet estate planning attorneys, keep looking. This is one of the most important points to underscore in deciding on estate planning attorneys. Although first impressions can be misleading, you need to have full confidence in the people to whom you are entrusting your estate, so choose estate planning attorneys that you are comfortable talking to and discussing your personal situation with.

Choosing estate planning attorneys is a very important decision, so by following these guidelines, you should have confidence in the estate planning attorneys that you ultimately choose.

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