Estate Planning

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Estate Planning Lawyers

An estate planning lawyer serves several important functions. Your attorney can help you organize your estate and develop a strategy for passing your assets onto your heirs. Estate planning lawyers can also develop plans to minimize your income taxes while alive as well as the estate taxes paid after you die. And after your death, a probate lawyer can help guide your executor through the process of probating your estate.

When Should You Hire an Estate Planning Lawyer?

An estate planning lawyer can help you in a number of situations. Your wills lawyer can:

  • Help you develop a comprehensive plan for organizing your estate
  • Advise you on the pros and cons of various estate planning decisions
  • Write your last will and testament, as well as other estate planning documents, such as a power of attorney, living will and healthcare power of attorney
  • Create a trust, which is a legal entity into which you can transfer assets and allows your heirs to inherit property outside of the probate process
  • Develop plans to help reduce your income and estate taxes

Estate planning lets you decide how your estate will be distributed after your death. If you have a family, including a spouse or children, you'll want to hire an estate planning lawyer. You'll also want to hire a wills lawyer if you have any assets—including real estate, bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts and other valuables—even if you're single with no children.

Once you've created an estate plan, you'll want to do a periodic check up with your estate planning lawyers. You may have to revise your plans if you get married or divorced, become widowed or have children. Your estate planning lawyer may also suggest revisions to your plans if there are changes to the estate taxes or estate laws.

When Should You Hire a Probate Lawyer?

If you've been named as the executor of an estate, you may need the advice and guidance of probate lawyers. These are attorneys who focus specifically on settling an estate after someone passes away.

Sometimes people will name a probate lawyer as their executor. In other instances, the estate's executor will hire a probate lawyer to assist in the probate process. A probate lawyer can:

  • File the last will and testament with the probate court and appear in probate court, if necessary
  • Inventory the estate's assets and get an appraisal of the property
  • Communicate with the estate's beneficiaries
  • Use the estate's assets to pay the deceased's debts
  • Sell the estate's property, if necessary
  • Distribute gifts to the estate's beneficiaries
  • Calculate estate taxes, prepare and file estate tax returns
  • Prepare and file all required reports with the probate court
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