Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney if I Have a Simple Estate?
When it comes to estate planning, many people wonder whether they really need an estate planning attorney to help them with the process, especially if they have what they believe to be a simple estate. However, even if your estate is straightforward, there are still many reasons why you may want to consider working with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate the process.
What is a Simple Estate?
Before we delve into whether you need an estate planning attorney, it’s important to understand what is meant by a “simple estate.” Generally speaking, a simple estate is one where:
- The individual’s assets are relatively straightforward, with no complex investments or business holdings
- The individual has no outstanding debts or liabilities
- The individual does not have any minor children or dependents who require special care
If you fall into this category, you may be thinking that you don’t need an attorney to help you with your estate planning. However, even in these cases, there are still several reasons why you may want to consider working with an attorney.
The Benefits of Working with an Estate Planning Attorney
Here are just a few of the benefits that an estate planning attorney can offer, even if you have a simple estate:
Ensuring Your Wishes are Carried Out
One of the primary benefits of working with an estate planning attorney is that they can help ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. This includes things like:
- Making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes
- Appointing someone to handle your affairs after you pass away
- Ensuring that your minor children or dependents are taken care of in the event of your death
While you may think that these tasks are simple enough to handle on your own, working with an attorney can help ensure that your wishes are clearly documented and legally enforceable.
Minimizing Estate Taxes
Another benefit of working with an estate planning attorney is that they can help you minimize the taxes that your estate will owe after your death. While you may not think that your estate is large enough to worry about taxes, it’s important to remember that taxes can take a significant chunk out of even a relatively modest estate.
An attorney can help you explore options like setting up a trust or gifting assets during your lifetime in order to minimize your estate tax liability.
Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed to their heirs. While it is a necessary part of the estate settlement process in many cases, it can also be time-consuming and expensive.
An estate planning lawyer can help you explore options like setting up a living trust or naming beneficiaries on your accounts in order to avoid probate and streamline the estate settlement process.
Planning for Incapacity
Finally, an estate planning attorney can help you plan for incapacity, which is the situation where you are still alive but unable to make decisions for yourself. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including illness, injury, or simply old age.
Working with an attorney to set up powers of attorney and advance directives can help ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
While it’s true that having a simple estate may make the estate planning process less complicated, there are still many reasons why you may want to consider working with an estate planning attorney. From ensuring that your wishes are carried out to minimizing estate taxes and avoiding probate, an attorney can offer invaluable guidance and support throughout the process.
- Can’t I just use an online estate planning service instead of an attorney?
While online estate planning services can be a good option for some people, they may not be suitable for everyone. These services often provide