How to Decide if You Need a Trust and Estates Attorney
Do it yourself wills and estate planning documents are available on the internet and in your local office supply store. However, before you decide to purchase these resources it is important that you understand whether your interests would be better served by hiring an attorney to draft the documents for you.
Factors to Consider
Before you make the decision about whether or not to hire an attorney, you should consider the following factors:
- How large is your estate likely to be? If your estate is likely to be worth one million dollars or more than it might be subject to federal estate tax. Currently, the gross value of the estate that is subject to federal estate tax varies depending on the year that you die. However, the tax rates are significant and range from 45%-55%. Many people underestimate the value of their estate. An estate includes not only bank accounts but also all real estate, including a home, personal property, including jewelry and other valuables, life insurance, 401ks, pensions and, other investments. Many do it yourself estate packages and wills are not designed to help an individual legally avoid the estate tax. However, a qualified estate planning attorney can discuss different ways in which you can decrease your estate by setting up trusts, making annual gifts to family members or other individuals or making charitable contributions.
- Are you establishing any trusts? A properly formed trust can allow your assets to pass to your beneficiaries without incurring the cost of going through probate or being subject to estate taxes. These benefits only apply to trusts that meet certain requirements and it is, therefore, important for an attorney experienced in trust and estates law to draft the documents.
- Do you have any special family circumstances?Special family circumstances may make it important for you to consult an attorney. For example, if you have a child with special needs and you want to make sure that the child will benefit from your estate even though the child may not be able to manage the inherited money then you should consult an attorney. Likewise, if you have had multiple marriages or if you are looking to disinherit a child then you should seek the advice of counsel.
- Do you understand the legal requirements for wills and can you comply with them? Each state has its own requirements for the proper execution of wills. Some states allow holographic wills that are written in your own handwriting and that do not need to be witnessed. If you type your will, follow a do it yourself legal kit or have a friend draft the document for you then you will need to make sure the will is properly executed according to state law.
- How Comfortable Are You? Finally, you should consider your own personal tolerance for mistakes. You will not be able to change things once you have passed away and your heirs will not be able to change things either. Therefore, if it is important for you to make sure that your estate is distributed according to your intended wishes then you should consult an attorney.
While not every will requires an attorney, you should carefully consider all of the factors described above when determining whether it is a good idea to hire an attorney for your own estate planning purposes.
Search LawInfo's Estate Planning Resources
Additional Estate Planning Articles
What Happens When a Person Dies Without a Will?
If you want to make sure that your property is distributed according to your personal wishes at the time of your death, then it is important to have a properly … More
Protect Your Children With Your Last Will and Testament
There’s a lot to think about when you are expecting a baby. Baby names, nursery décor and car seat installation probably come to mind … More
Naming a Guardian for Your Children
Are you, like many parents, overwhelmed thinking about appointing a guardian for your children? Should something happen to you, your choice of a guardian will be … More
Establishing a Trust for Your Kids
Many parents want to provide for their children financially but may be reluctant to allow a teenager or young adult unfiltered access to the money. They may be … More
Estate Planning Tools for Wealth Transfer
Proper estate planning does not leave all the transfer of all of your money and assets until the time of your death. Many people, particularly those who have … More
Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney & Health Care Directives: What Is the Difference?
Every state allows competent adults to grant another person the power to be their “agent”, to act on their behalf. These powers generally fall under … More
Living trusts have grown in popularity over the last two decades. A living trust (or an inter vivos trust) is a common estate planning tool as well as a tool to … More
Estate Taxes: How to Legally Minimize Your Obligation
People often say that there two things that unavoidable in life: death and taxes. So, to some it seems unfair when the two coincide and estate taxes are … More
The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act: An Overview
The Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) provide a way for parents to maintain control over property that is owned by … More
Naming Children as Life Insurance Beneficiaries
Many people purchase life insurance to provide for their children. As the term implies, life insurance is an insurance plan that allows a parent, or other policy … More