An estate lawyer specializes in the legal aspects of estate planning, asset protection and succession. Estate lawyers provide advice on a variety of matters related to wills, trusts, taxes, guardianships, probate proceedings and more. Here are 7 common things an estate lawyer does:
1. Draft Wills
Estate lawyers draft legally binding documents that ensure your wishes will be carried out after you die. A lawyer can advise you on how best to structure your will so that it complies with state laws and tax regulations.
2. Manage Probate Proceedings
When someone passes away, the court has to approve their will before their assets can be distributed according to their wishes or those of the deceased’s heirs. An estate lawyer can help manage the probate proceedings to ensure a smooth transfer of assets.
3. Advise on Estate Taxes
Estate lawyers are knowledgeable in estate taxes and can advise clients on legal ways to reduce their tax burden after death. This includes strategies such as gifting assets or setting up trusts to benefit future generations.
4. Establish Living Trusts
Living trusts are documents that allow you to transfer ownership of your property and assets during your lifetime, while also avoiding probate and providing asset protection for your heirs. An estate lawyer is well versed in different types of living trusts and can assist with structuring them correctly.
5. Create Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney document gives someone the authority to act on your behalf in a legal or financial capacity. Estate lawyers can help you craft this document to ensure that your wishes are appropriately outlined and honored.
6. Manage Trust Funds
Trusts are often used to control the distribution of assets after death, as well as provide protection from creditors and lawsuits. An estate lawyer can assist with managing the various trust funds created for beneficiaries, including setting up investment opportunities and designating trustees.
7. Handle Guardianships
If an individual is unable to manage their own affairs due to disability or illness, an estate lawyer can assist with setting up a guardianship so that someone else may have the legal authority to do so on their behalf. The lawyer will make sure all paperwork is completed correctly and that any disputes are handled appropriately.
Estate lawyers serve an important role in helping individuals plan for the future and protect their assets. By understanding the services that estate lawyers offer, you can make sure to get the most out of their expertise.