People rarely enjoy thinking about their own mortality. That’s why estate planning can be an awkward subject to broach. Nevertheless, it is important to protect your hard-earned assets against the possibility of death or illness.
1. Keeping Your Legal Documents Updated
An estate plan is a set of legal documents ensuring your family is protected in all eventualities. This type of plan is more than just a posthumous blueprint for your assets. The plan will take effect if your health leaves you unable to manage your own financial affairs. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that your estate plan is solid and secure.
Your estate documents aren’t necessarily documents you’ll prepare and then ignore. Decades might pass between the drafting and implementation of these documents. Your plans for your assets may evolve over time. As your relationships and finances change, so might your intentions. For example, you might want to change the beneficiaries of your will after a divorce. If you witness an unexpected reduction in your assets, you might need to reduce the number of your beneficiaries.
An excellent estate planning lawyer will provide you with consistency and peace of mind for the long term. Despite what you may think, you don’t have to wait until you are elderly or in poor health. On the contrary, anyone with appreciable assets is well-advised to engage in estate planning. Once you take the first step, you’ll be able to face the uncertain future with greater confidence.
2. Making Sure You Stay Compliant With the Law
Each estate plan is subject to a variety of federal and state laws. If you tried to prepare your legal documents by yourself, you could easily make some egregious mistakes. Even if you are an intelligent person, it can be tough for a layperson to meet the exacting requirements of the law. An experienced attorney will have the background necessary to guide you away from any legal pitfalls.
3. Reducing the Tax Burden For Beneficiaries
Working around the estate tax is a central part of estate planning. The last thing you want is for your grieving heirs to face a stiff tax bill. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce the effective tax rate on your estate. With the right legal advice, you may be able to legally avoid estate taxes altogether.
4. Setting Up Trusts and Foundations
When the average person thinks of estate planning, they are likely to think of preparing a will. However, estate planning also involves the use of legal instruments known as trusts or living trusts. These are powerful, flexible tools for ensuring your heirs are safe after you pass on.
The trust fund is a well-respected method for dispersing inherited funds gradually over time. Experience has shown that lump sum inheritances don’t always last very long. Disbursed in monthly or quarterly payments, a trust fund can ensure your heir is well-protected for decades to come. An honest estate planning attorney might also serve your needs as the manager of any trust fund you create.
If your assets are particularly large, you may have cause to park them in a charitable foundation. This is perhaps the ultimate method to ensure that estate taxes do not unduly sap your hard-earned assets. A foundation is a great way to aid the values and institutions you cherished in life. Though foundations are charities, first and foremost, they can also potentially provide employment opportunities for your loved ones. To prevent their abuse, trusts and foundations are carefully regulated by the government. You will certainly need a lawyer’s advice to use these instruments properly.
5. Protecting Your Assets From Probate Proceedings
If you pass away without an estate plan, your estate will become subject to the probate process. This civil procedure formally determines which of your assets will be conveyed to which beneficiaries. Always a nuisance, the probate process is often lengthy and expensive. Of course, estate planning attorneys are also qualified to guide you or your heirs through probate court. Hiring a probate attorney in Orlando could prove invaluable for your family.
Estate planning can be an emotionally fraught process. Weighing the needs of your heirs can be difficult. An attorney can provide impartial views along with nuts-and-bolts legal advice.