Most people know very little about the legal tools and strategies utilized in estate planning. The same people, however, typically understand the importance of having a comprehensive and well-drafted estate plan in place. If you are one of those people, that means that you may not recognize the numerous ways in which an estate planning attorney can help you. By the same token, you may not realize when you need the assistance of an estate planning attorney for legal issues that are to your estate plan. To ensure that you are always protected and that you have access to the advice and guidance you need for all your legal matters, a Grand Forks attorney at German Law discusses the top 10 reasons to consult with an estate planning attorney.
- Crafting your initial estate plan. When crafting your first estate plan, the advice and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial. Although it may be tempting to use forms found on the internet to save time and money, those generic forms also exponentially increase the likelihood of a problem with your estate plan after you pass away. Beyond this initial phase, maintaining an ongoing relationship with your attorney becomes valuable as adjustments and important changes to your estate plan may be necessary throughout your lifetime.
- Legacy planning. Going beyond basic estate planning, legacy planning integrates your beliefs, philosophies, and faith into your estate plan so that these crucial aspects of you and your life are also passed down to the next generation. This process, seamlessly incorporated into your existing estate plan, can be facilitated by an estate planning attorney.
- Administering an estate during probate. Following an individual’s death, their estate undergoes the legal process of probate. If a Last Will and Testament is in place, the appointed Executor oversees this process. If a Will was not left behind, a family member or close friend is usually appointed to oversee the estate administration. Due to its complexity and time-consuming nature, many Executors seek assistance from an estate planning lawyer.
- Planning for the possibility of your own incapacity. Because incapacity can strike at any age, it is crucial to designate someone to manage your assets and make medical decisions on your behalf now while you have the opportunity. An estate planning attorney can integrate incapacity planning into your estate plan, providing protection in case of unforeseen incapacity. This may include things such as establishing a revocable living trust to give someone of your choosing the legal right to control assets and/or the execution of advance directives to ensure that your wishes are honored regarding medical care and treatment if you cannot express them at some point in the future.
- Long-term care (Medicaid) planning. Recognizing the likelihood of requiring long-term care in the future and the shockingly high cost of that care, an estate planning attorney can help you prepare. To address the high cost of long-term care, an estate planning attorney may employ Medicaid planning tools and strategies to help you qualify for coverage, ensuring financial assistance for long-term care expenses while protecting your hard-earned assets.
- Planning for a child with special needs. To safeguard eligibility for assistance programs such as Medicaid and SSI, an estate planning attorney can assist in creating a special needs trust, setting up and ABLE account, or incorporating other strategies into your estate plan to help you provide for your child without jeopardizing crucial assistance.
- Contesting a Will. Coping with the loss of a loved one becomes more challenging if there are doubts about the validity of the Last Will and Testament submitted to the court for probate. An estate planning attorney can assess your concerns to determine if they constitute legal grounds for contesting the Will. If you have the necessary grounds, your estate planning attorney can initiate and litigate a challenge to the Will.
- Seeking Guardianship/Conservatorship for a parent or another aging loved one. At a certain point in life, you might realize that a parent (or another loved one) can no longer safely make decisions or manage their finances. This may prompt you to contemplate petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship. The decision and subsequent legal process can be emotionally draining, and confusing, and require a considerable amount of your time and attention. To ensure that your objective is reached and to streamline the legal process, consult with an estate planning attorney.
- Acting as Trustee during the administration of a trust. If you unexpectedly find yourself tasked with administering a trust because the Trustor designated you as the Trustee, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. In addition to the responsibility of effectively managing the entrusted assets, you may be concerned about personal liability for potential errors. The reassuring news is that an estate planning attorney can guide you throughout the trust administration process and make sure that you fulfill all your duties and responsibilities as a Trustee.
- Elder abuse and neglect. Deciding that nursing home care is necessary for an elderly parent (or another loved one) is a difficult decision to make; however, failing to make it could put your loved one at considerable risk of injury or victimization. Once you make the decision that some type of care is needed, you may start suspecting elder abuse or neglect after your parent or loved one has settled in. This can create a heart-wrenching situation. The best course of action at that juncture is to reach out to your estate planning attorney to determine the most appropriate steps forward.
Is It Time to Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney Near You?
Please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions about when you might be able to benefit from the advice and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, contact the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
- Comprehensive Estate Planning: A Guide to Securing Your Legacy and Honoring Your Wishes - February 22, 2024
- North Dakota Guide to Avoiding Probate - February 20, 2024
- There’s No Better Way to Say “I’ll Be There for You” than with an Estate Plan - February 15, 2024