An estate planning attorney is a type of lawyer who understands the legal processes of getting financial affairs in order when you’re preparing for an incapacitating event or your eventual passing. They have years of mentoring, continuing legal education, and experience in estate and inheritance law. Estate planning doesn’t begin and end with a last will and testament. An attorney practicing in this field drafts living trusts and develops plans to mitigate or avoid estate taxes. They work to ensure that your life’s savings and assets are safe from beneficiaries’ creditors when you pass on. Certain types of trusts and clauses within them can protect your estate from creditors and other vultures that try to swoop in on an inheritance. Estate planning lawyers can prepare powers of attorney and health care directives that arrange for someone to take care of your affairs if you should ever become mentally incapacitated. Powers of attorney give someone you trust the ability to sign in your name if you become unable to. You can make a health care directive to assign an agent to conduct your health care wishes if you’re incapacitated. They can help you avoid guardianship or conservatorship issues if you need someone else to look after your affairs. You can appoint guardians (to handle personal issues for your kids) or conservators (to handle your kids’ finances) to look after your children and finances if you pass away before they reach an appropriate age be on their own and handle their inheritance.
Estate Planning Lawyer Qualities
A general law practitioner may not have the experience and specialized knowledge to assist you with your unique family and financial situations. Look for an estate planning attorney who:
• Devotes their practice to estate planning
• Makes you feel comfortable sharing intimate details of your life and concerns, so your estate plan doesn’t fall short of your expectations and needs.
• Is well-versed in and up-to-date with the laws of your state. Otherwise, your estate plan could be deemed invalid by the court.
Finding an Estate Planning Attorney
There are multiple ways to find an estate planning attorney you can comfortably work with and trust. Start by asking someone who already knows you, such as your financial adviser or accountant. Your local or state bar association is another source of reputable referrals. You can ask the local probate court and consult other attorneys as well. Before committing, it may be possible to interview a few briefly by phone to help determine your ability to communicate effectively with them. Be prepared to pay to have your estate plan created, maintained, and updated by someone specializing in this area of practice. You’re paying for the attorney’s expertise and knowledge of estate laws, and to have a plan that will hold up in court. Your estate might stand to lose far more money in the long run than it costs to pay a qualified attorney. A flat fee may cover the preparation of essential documents and initial consultation. If an attorney wants to charge you by the hour, try to negotiate a flat price for all the work you expect is needed. Some experienced attorneys will agree because they have a good sense of how much time goes into a specific task. If your estate incurs taxes that could have been avoided, or if a contentious probate process drags out after you pass on, your loved ones may wish that you had spent the money to plan instead. It is worth paying for the planning, so that you know things will go exactly as you intended because you had the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Take the time to find and hire a professional and respected attorney in your area. In the long run, you and your family will be glad you did.
A professional estate planning lawyer will bring years of experience in managing estate planning matters in accordance with Utah estate law. Hiring the right help to plan your property and finances can ensure the safety of your finances so that your family will be able to take full advantage of them. Although estate planning lawyers can help you with a variety of issues, their main goal is to provide the best possible assistance in order to prepare your financial legacy. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have prepared for your family and that they will not have to struggle with estate-related issues when you are gone. A reliable estate planning lawyer can help you to write your will and testament as well as set up a trust if required. They can also make sure that the estate and inheritance taxes are kept to a minimum by avoiding any delays in submitting documents. Even after your passing, your lawyer can continue to help by ensuring the executor of your last will transfers your assets to the correct beneficiaries. An estate planning lawyer can also supervise the probate process to prevent any issues or mistakes. Planning an estate can be an emotionally stressful process, making it difficult to make logical decisions. Therefore, an estate planning lawyer must be responsible and trustworthy to help you with drawing up a living will, assigning the power of attorney, or preparing any type of advance directive. Your lawyer should be your legal guide to help ease the process and make you feel comfortable.
Choosing the Right Estate Planning Lawyer
It is recommended to get a referral from the State Bar of Utah to find the best lawyer for planning your estate. You can also consult with your financial advisor or seek the help of your friends and family members to shortlist the best estate planning lawyers in Utah. Note that lawyers who specialize in estate planning might not have any specific certification or letter to distinguish them from a personal injury lawyer or a car accident lawyer. Instead, they would usually refer to themselves as estate planning professionals. You may want to seek out attorneys whose primary practice experience is in handling estate planning matters. There are some certifications though, which even financial advisors or accountants can attain to practice estate law.
These may include:
• Accredited Estate Planner: This accreditation is awarded by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. It can be attained by chartered life underwriters, certified public accountants, certified financial advisors, as well as licensed attorneys. To get the certification, the individual should have at least 5 years of experience in estate planning, should have completed 2 graduate-level courses from the American College of Financial Services, and should have completed at least 30 hours of ongoing education within 2 years, out of which a minimum of 15 hours should be in estate planning.
• Chartered Trust and Estate Planner – This certification is awarded by the American Academy of Financial Management. To get this accreditation, the individual should have a degree in finance, tax, financial services, accounting, or law. Apart from that, individuals with an MBA, Ph.D., CPA, MS, or JD from an accredited school or US organization can also attain the certification. Moreover, the individual should have completed a minimum of 5 approved related courses, a certification training course, and annual continuing education to be certified to practice estate law.
• Certified Trust and Financial Advisor – This designation is awarded by the American Bankers Association in cooperation with the Institute of Certified Bankers. To attain the certification, the individual should have at least 3 years of experience in finance management, should have completed an approved wealth management training program, and should have completed at least 45 hours of ongoing education within 3 years. They should also have a letter of recommendation and a signed ethics statement to get CTFA-certified.
No matter whether you choose an attorney with specific accreditation or not, the most important thing to note when hiring one is to make sure that they are easy to work with. You would be spending a lot of time with the lawyer, so they should be sensitive toward your life choices and respect your final decisions. Yet at the same time, they should be able to provide logical and clear explanations as to why or why not you should plan your estate in a certain way. Your lawyer should also be proficient enough to offer judicious inputs to plan your estate, while also making sure that you are comfortable throughout the process.
Estate law is the body of law that concerns a person’s physical and personal property. Estate law involves planning for a person’s finances and property both during their lifetime and after. It’s a body of law that includes taking care of people and property. It can involve both transactional law and litigation. Estate law is all of the laws that impact how a person makes decisions and issues directives about their personal affairs. There are several different types of law that make up estate law. These types of law often intertwine. Estate law may involve any of the following types of law:
A will is a document that states what a person wants to happen to their property when they die. Each person has the right to decide who to give their property to when they pass away. They must deduct their debts from the value of their estate before they can total up their remaining assets to give to the people they choose. The state law where the person lives says what the rules are for creating a will.When a person dies without a will it’s called dying intestate. Each state has rules for what happens when a person dies without a will. An estate lawyer may help their client handle the estate or contest the distribution of an estate when a person dies without estate planning.
A trust is a legal instrument that allows someone to hold property that someone else owns for the other person’s benefit. A client might use a trust in order to minimize estate taxes and minimize the hassles that can go along with estate distribution. In other cases, a trust is helpful to manage assets for a minor or a person with disabilities. Attorneys help their clients determine if a trust is the right vehicle for them to reach their estate planning goals.
Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives
Powers of attorney and advance directives give guidance on what a person wants to happen in the event that they’re unable to care for themselves. A power of attorney allows a client to give someone else the right to make decisions for them and manage their finances if they’re unable to express their own wishes. Many people use advance directives in order to advise if they want life-saving efforts like hydration and CPR if they face severe medical difficulties.
When a person is unable to manage their own affairs because of a physical or mental disability, they may need a guardianship. Adults need a guardianship when they’re unable to handle their own affairs. Children need guardianships when their parents are unable to care for them. Through a guardianship petition, a court can give another person the legal power to make binding decisions for someone else.
Attorneys who practice estate law may practice transactional law as well as litigation. When estate lawyers prepare documents and help clients plan for the future, they’re transactional lawyers. There are no court appearances involved in making a will or preparing a trust, for example. If there’s a will contest, an estate lawyer is a litigator. An estate attorney may attend court and present evidence at a contested hearing. Nearly all estate lawyers practice transactional law, but most are also prepared for when they need to be litigators in order to represent the best interests of their clients. Some practice of law is simply reactive. For example, a criminal defense lawyer helps a client react when they’re facing a criminal charge. Likewise, most civil litigation cases involve a dispute over something that’s already occurred. Attorneys sometimes help their clients react to something that’s already occurred. Other times, attorneys help their clients plan for the future. For example, they help their clients create a contract or they advise their clients on what behavior complies with the law and avoids civil penalties. Estate law is both proactive and reactive. Estate lawyers help clients prepare documents that spell out exactly what’s going to happen in the future. The hope is that with advance planning, the client can have their wishes carried out as smoothly as possible. On the other hand, estate law is reactive in that estate attorneys help their clients with estate administration and will contests. Most estate law is state law. State laws determine what needs to be in a will in order to make it valid. There are federal estate taxes that may apply to an estate. Clients with multi-million dollar estates must be careful to structure their estates in a way that contemplates federal estate taxes. To properly serve clients, an attorney must know what state and federal laws apply to their client’s situation. Attorneys must also be mindful that when a client moves to a new state, they may need to update their estate planning in order to continue to have the desired effect from their estate planning.
Free Consultation – Estate Planning Lawyers
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506