There is a very good chance that you will need a local estate planning attorney at some point in your life if you live in the area. The problem may be recognizing when you have a need for an estate planning attorney because, like most people, you may not be familiar with all of the different types of legal matters an estate planning attorney handles. Although it would be impossible to list every possible scenario in which you might need an estate planning attorney it might be beneficial for you to learn some of the more common scenarios in which a Grand Forks estate planning attorney might be able to help you.
Planning Your Estate
This one might be obvious. A Grand Forks estate planning attorney can certainly help you with your own estate planning. What may not be so obvious, however, is when you need to start estate planning. Like many people, you may be under the impression that you need to amass a sizeable fortune, get married, or be a parent before you need an estate plan. This is simply not the case. Everyone over the age of 18 should have at least a basic estate plan in place. As you, and your estate, grow you will expand on that basic plan; however, it is never too early to get started on estate planning.
Probating an Estate
You may be notified that a recently deceased family member or loved one appointed you as the Executor of their estate, or you may step up and volunteer to be the Personal Representative (PR) of an estate of a decedent who died intestate (without a Last Will and Testament in place). As the Executor or PR you will responsible for overseeing the probate of the decedent’s estate. Depending on the size of the estate, probating the estate can be a time consuming and complex job. Most Executors/PRs retain the services of an estate planning attorney to assist them during the probate process.
Contesting a Will
If a family member, or close loved one, recently died and you have doubts about the validity of the Last Will and Testament submitted for probate, you may be entitled to contest the Will by filing a Will contest. In order to be successful you must prove one of a select few legal grounds on which the Will may be declared invalid. To do so, you will likely need the help of an experienced local estate planning attorney.
If you have reached the difficult conclusion that a parent, grandparent, or other elderly loved one is no longer capable of safely caring for himself/herself and/or is no longer competent to manage his/her financial affairs, it may be time to consider pursuing guardianship. The guardianship process can be complicated and emotionally draining. Having an estate planning attorney on your side will greatly increase your odds of getting through the process efficiently and successfully.
What would happen to you, your children, and your assets if you suddenly became incapacitated? Who would make medical decision for you? Who would take over as guardian of your children? Who would handle your financial affairs? An incapacity plan can answer all of these questions now instead of leaving them to be answered in a court of law after the fact. An estate planning attorney can help you create your incapacity plan.
You may not realize it, but there is a good chance you will need to qualify for Medicaid benefits at some point during your retirement years. If you failed to plan for that possibility, all of your hard-earned assets could be at risk when you apply. By including Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan you eliminate the risk to your nest egg and ensure that you will be eligible for benefits when you need them.
Special Needs Planning
If you are the parent (or grandparent) of a child with special needs, you may want to establish a special needs trust for your child to protect any inheritance you plan to leave him/her. Without a special needs trust in place, a gift from you, or other well-meaning family members, could jeopardize your child’s eligibility for much needed state and/or federal assistance programs.
If you have additional questions about estate planning contact the experienced Grand Forks/East Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.