Estate planning attorneys can help you plan for the future.
Attorneys who practice in this area of law also assist clients with:
- Estate and gift tax strategies
- Preparing documents such as wills and trusts to govern your assets and specify your wishes
- Wealth management
- Asset protection
- Health care directives
- Tax planning
- Planning for the costs of a funeral, and related matters.
FAQs regarding Estate Planning:
Q: What is the difference between a Will and a Trust?
A: When planning your estate, the main difference that could influence whether you want to establish a Will, or a Trust, is that a Will is implemented upon death and a Trust takes effect as soon as it is created.
Q: What is an estate?
A: An Estate is the term used to describe all the assets a person owns. Typically we think of estates as being made up of money, real estate, automobiles, and other similar items. Whether you own a little, or a lot, Dagger Law recommends creating legal documents, such as a Will or a Trust, to protect your assets. It is also important to remember that after you have met with a lawyer to draft your estate planning documents, there will need to be periodic reviews. We have found that life has a funny way of slowly adding up little changes until you look back and see how large the total change has been. Most of these come in the form of new grandchildren, additional assets, the replacement of assets, the sale of a home, and other similar life events.
Q: What is Probate?
A: Simply put, probate is the process of officially proving a Will. It is a judicial process to evaluate what is in an estate, who the beneficiaries are, who is responsible for distributing the estate to the beneficiaries, and then legally transferring the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries. As you can probably infer from reading that list, assets being distributed only happens after all the other items have been determined. If there are disagreements, then the process could take some time to resolve those disagreements. This is why a clear estate planning document, prepared by an experienced attorney, is important. A properly prepared Will, or Trust, can help shorten the probate period, or eliminate probate altogether as in the case of a Trust.
Q: How does a Trust eliminate the probate period?
A: While a Trust does eliminate the need to probate an estate, in most circumstances, it might be better to think of a Trust as simply changing when the probate process happens. Because a Trust takes effect immediately upon execution, the work of making all those determinations about assets and beneficiaries happens early on in the process and may need to be revisited as circumstances change. Upon death, the executed Trust remains in effect rather than starting the process of becoming effective. This typically speeds up the time that it takes for beneficiaries to have access to the assets left to them.
Q: What is the cost difference between a Will and a Trust? It is more expensive to establish a Trust, but tends to be less costly once a death occurs. By comparison, a Will is a cost effective means by which you can record your intentions, but can require more work (and thus more cost) once the probate process begins.
The advice and direction of your estate planning attorney will be essential to implementing an estate plan that both disposes of your assets according to your wishes and meets your other objectives.