When going through the process of creating an estate plan, you may not want to go through it alone without professional and legal advice. If you have concerns, it may be a good option to hire an estate attorney to assist you through the process.
Just as you wouldn’t hire a divorce attorney to help you with a real estate matter, you shouldn’t assume any general lawyer will have the same level of expertise as a lawyer who specializes in creating legally valid estate plans.
An estate attorney will assist in putting together all parts of your estate plan, from creating a living will, choosing a power of attorney, drafting your Last Will and Testament, and living trust.
When you begin working with an estate attorney, the initial meeting should focus on them getting to know you and understanding exactly what you are looking for. As you will be discussing a number of crucial and sensitive details regarding your health, assets, and final wishes, you want to be sure you and the attorney are the right fit for each other before you proceed.
After the first consultation, the process of creating your estate plan should begin and take anywhere from one to two weeks to lay out an initial plan.
The main focus of your estate plan is to put you and your preferences down on paper. You need to address your instructions regarding healthcare, final arrangements, and your desires for dispersing your estate.
Your Health: What medical treatments would you allow or not allow if there is a medical emergency and you cannot communicate? Do you have any wishes regarding life support or resuscitation?
Your Estate: What are your assets? Do you own property? What types of financial accounts do you have? Do you have life insurance?
Beneficiaries: Who will be given portions of your estate? How much will each person receive?
Executor and Guardians: Who will be your chosen executor for your will? If you have minor children, who will you choose as their legal guardian?
After your estate attorney has compiled all of your financial information and received the necessary answers to crucial questions, the next step is creating the documents needed for your estate plan.
These documents cover legal before and after death situations to ensure your wishes are covered in any circumstance and will be followed as you planned.
Once the documents are prepared by your estate attorney, you must have them signed. Although not required for every document, you may still consider having each contract notarized. Your will must include two witnesses who are not listed as beneficiaries.
Although an attorney is not required to create a legally binding estate plan, you may find the experience and professional advice offered by an estate lawyer worth the investment.