Less than half of all Americans have a Last Will and Testament (will), according to Gallup polls. Far too many people assume that estate planning is only relevant to elderly people or wealthy people. However, the fact is that everyone should have an estate plan. Not only should everyone have an estate plan, but they should also consider working with an experienced estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney will work closely with his or her client to help them plan their financial legacy. If you are thinking about estate planning but have questions or need guidance, consider reaching out to an experienced Santa Barbara estate planning attorney from Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law at 805-946-1550.
Top Reasons To Consider Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
With so many do-it-yourself templates out there for estate planning, you may be asking: do I really need an estate planning attorney? An experienced Santa Barbara estate planning attorney will help make sure that your estate plan is clear and unambiguous, and provide you with the legal answers you need to ensure your financial assets remain protected. The following are 7 critical reasons to hire an estate planning attorney.
1. Provides Objectivity
Family dynamics can be difficult - especially when it comes to emotional and painful issues such as confronting a family member's potential passing. If you are considering your own estate planning, some family members who are not named as beneficiaries may try to influence you to make certain decisions to their benefit. One of the important reasons to hire an estate planning attorney is that he or she can provide an objective opinion, provide a voice of reason, and help you recognize drawbacks in your overall plan. Additionally, an estate planning attorney can provide the legal options for your specific situation with complete objectivity in order for you to make the decision right for you.
2. Understands the Legal Intricacies of Estate Planning and Protects Your Family
Estate planning is so much more than simply deciding who receives which assets after a person passes. In addition to a will, an estate plan might include:
- Placing assets in trusts (including special needs trusts, dynasty trusts, gun trusts, pet trusts, etc.)
- Designating a power of attorney
- Medical directives should you become unable to make decisions yourself
- Guardianship nomination for minors or others in need of care
These legal documents must be carefully drafted in order to ensure that your wishes are followed after your death or during your incapacitation. Something as simple as a wrong word or a missing signature can lead to beneficiaries not receiving the assets that were designated for them. An experienced Santa Barbara estate planning attorney can help avoid these mistakes or oversights in an estate plan, preventing both emotional and financial suffering for your family in the future.
3. Understands State Laws
Estate planning law is not only complicated, but it also varies from state to state. State laws dictate what can and can not be in a will, trust, or power of attorney. These laws also determine who may serve as a witness to a legal document and what formalities are required when signing such documents. Additionally, there are often tax implications that accompany estate planning. A knowledgeable Santa Barbara estate planning attorney from Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law will be familiar with all of these laws and will work to ensure that your estate plan complies with them, and offers you and your family the greatest benefit according to your wishes.
4. Customizes an Estate Plan That Meets Your Specific Needs
One of the reasons do-it-yourself templates for estate planning often do not make sense for individuals is that individuals often have complicated family situations. Ideally, estate plans should address these issues in such a way as to benefit the person making the estate plan and the entire family. This is another one of the important reasons to consider visiting with an experienced estate planning attorney, as they can help you address situations such as:
- A second (or later) marriage
- Owned businesses
- Real estate that is owned in more than one state
- Family members with special needs
- Minor children
- Leaving part of the estate to charity
- Significant assets in 401(k)s or IRAS
5. Addresses Financial Issues and Estate Taxes
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, taxable estates typically pay about one-sixth of their value in tax. Another one of the important reasons to consider hiring an estate planning attorney is that they can work to reduce the amount of your hard-earned assets that will go to taxes, keeping finances within your family.
6. Updates Your Estate Planning Documents
Life events can happen that may impact an estate plan - for example, couples divorce, babies are born, and trustees may pass away. When there is a major life event, it is important to update your estate plan so that it continues to meet your wishes and your family's needs. A qualified Santa Barbara estate planning attorney will be able to regularly update your legal documents to reflect your needs and help ensure that your wishes are followed.
7. Provides a Lifelong Resource for A Family
Finally, another one of the important reasons to hire an estate planning attorney is that they can continue to serve as a resource to your family after your passing. They can support the family through a smooth transition of assets, answer any legal questions, and assist with the administration of trusts. This resource can have an important impact on relieving family stress during a difficult time, as well as reducing tension between family members about the estate.
Contact an Experienced Santa Barbara Estate Planning Attorney Today
A compassionate and knowledgeable attorney does so much more than simply help you plan your estate. They help ensure that your family and loved ones are protected, that assets are distributed smoothly, and that your family and loved ones are not left confused without legal direction after your passing - but instead, are prepared and have the resources they need after you die. If you are seeking a Santa Barbara estate planning attorney, consider reaching out to Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law to schedule a consultation today at 805-946-1550.