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  • Writer's picturePorter DeVries

How an estate planning attorney helps people

An estate planning attorney is a legal professional who specializes in assisting individuals and families with creating and implementing estate plans. Estate planning attorneys provide legal advice and guidance to help clients protect their assets, plan for their future, and ensure that their wishes are carried out during incapacity or after death. Here are some ways in which an estate planning attorney can help people:

  1. Customized Estate Planning: An estate planning attorney works with clients to create a customized estate plan that reflects their unique needs, goals, and family dynamics. They assess the client's financial situation, family circumstances, and estate planning objectives, and provide tailored legal solutions to achieve those objectives.

  2. Document Drafting and Review: Estate planning attorneys prepare and review legal documents such as wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and other estate planning instruments. They ensure that these documents are drafted in compliance with applicable laws, accurately reflect the client's intentions, and provide appropriate protections for the client and their beneficiaries.

  3. Probate Avoidance: Estate planning attorneys help clients structure their estate plans to minimize or avoid probate, which is the legal process by which a court validates a will and oversees the distribution of assets. Probate can be time-consuming, costly, and public, and an estate planning attorney can utilize strategies such as trusts, beneficiary designations, and joint ownership to help clients avoid probate and streamline the transfer of assets to their intended beneficiaries.

  4. Tax Planning: Estate planning attorneys help clients minimize estate taxes, which are taxes levied on the transfer of assets after death. They can assist with strategies such as gifting, charitable giving, and setting up trusts to minimize estate tax liability and preserve more assets for future generations.

  5. Incapacity Planning: Estate planning attorneys help clients plan for the possibility of incapacity by creating durable powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and other legal instruments that designate trusted individuals to make financial and medical decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity. This helps ensure that the client's financial and medical affairs are handled according to their wishes, even if they become unable to make decisions on their own.

  6. Business Succession Planning: For clients who own businesses, estate planning attorneys can assist with business succession planning to ensure a smooth transition of the business to the next generation or a designated successor. This may involve creating a buy-sell agreement, setting up a trust or other legal structure, and addressing other legal and financial considerations related to business succession.

  7. Family Legacy and Charitable Planning: Estate planning attorneys can help clients leave a legacy for future generations and support charitable causes that are important to them. This may involve creating a charitable trust, setting up a family foundation, or incorporating philanthropic goals into the estate plan.

  8. Estate Plan Updates: Estate planning attorneys also assist clients with periodic review and updating of their estate plans to ensure that they remain current and effective. Life events such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, changes in financial circumstances, or changes in laws may require updates to an estate plan, and an estate planning attorney can help clients navigate these changes and make necessary adjustments to their plan.

Overall, an estate planning attorney provides comprehensive legal advice, guidance, and document preparation to help clients create and implement an estate plan that protects their assets, minimizes taxes, plans for incapacity, ensures their wishes are carried out, and provides for the well-being of their loved ones. Estate planning is a complex area of law, and consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is recommended to ensure that your estate plan is properly structured, legally valid, and aligned with your specific goals and circumstances.

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