Drafting and updating estate planning documents like the will, health care directives, and trusts is important to ensure your wishes are honored when you die. Research shows 71.6% of Americans die without updating the will leaving their families in unending wrangles. While digital platforms help update one’s will at a low cost, estate planning lawyers still play a critical role. Not only do they help prepare and update this legal document but also execute it upon your demise. Here are more reasons you should engage an estate planning lawyer Bismarck ND.
State Laws Rule Estate Plans
State laws outline what can be included in a will, who can act as a personal representative, the lawyer’s financial power, among other crucial legal factors. For example, Florida state laws require the personal representative to be related to the testator by marriage or blood; if not, a state resident. Many testators are oblivious of this fact and appoint friends and relatives living out of the state to act in this capacity. Engaging estate planning lawyers will help avoid such mistakes.
To Protect Beneficiaries
A while ago, estate planning was popular among wealthy folks. However, the trend has changed as more middle-class families find it important to plan for when their primary breadwinner dies. Even if you’re only leaving a second home, you need to decide who receives the property upon death.
The primary objective of estate planning is to designate heirs for your assets. Without an estate plan, the court will be required to decide who inherits your assets on your behalf. The process can be grueling to your family, not to mention the number of fees racked up.
Enlisting the help of an estate planning lawyer beforehand protects your family from all such problems. The lawyer also helps distribute the property fairly as they are more acquainted with the family.
Update Legal Documents When Necessary
Wills need to be updated to reflect changes in your financial status. If the documents are ready, estate planning lawyers review them carefully to determine areas that need to be updated. Some wills need a simple codicil while others require a thorough re-evaluation to reduce estate taxes or avoid probate.
Ensure the Document Complies with the Existing Law
Enlisting the help of an estate planning attorney ensures your documents are drafted according to the current state law. Trust laws change from time to time, hence working with a lawyer ensures your plan fits the parameter of the state law.
Documents are Drafted and Executed Professionally
While online wills or fill-in-the-blank provide a quick fix to hiring an estate planner to draft the will, they may not have the legal backing. The platform only provides information on how to make the document valid.
One of the features that make a will valid is witnesses; online templates can’t account for their presence. In addition, the witnesses need to attest that they saw other witnesses sign. Estate planning attorneys help draft the document professionally and customize it to specific situations and goals. Also, they help make the documents official, arrange for witnesses, and notarize public signatures.
Get Legal Advice Regarding Asset Titling
A common misconception about wills is that they cover all your assets automatically. On the contrary, some types of beneficiary designations on assets like life insurance are inherited independently unless you take steps to make them work together.
Engaging estate planning lawyers should help you review the assets, retitle the accounts and property, and change the beneficiary designations. This often-overlooked step helps avoid the time-consuming probate proceedings upon the death of the testator.
Deal with Complex Family Situations
Estate planning is not always smooth sailing in the event of certain complex family situations like:
- The testator is in a second marriage
- You have more than one business
- You want to donate all or some of your property to charity
- You have property in more than one state
- You have substantial assets in IRAs and 401(k)s
All such situations can’t be addressed by drafting a will via online platforms. The testator should consider enlisting the help of a lawyer to address the complexities of the situation. Otherwise, the state’s department of revenue and the probate lawyer may receive the largest chunk of the estate.