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It’s important to ask your estate attorney these questions. Keep reading for estate planning questions: 4 key questions to ask your estate attorney.
More than half of Americans don’t have the essential estate planning documents they need. They may have a will, but in today’s legal world, this often isn’t enough.
You can protect yourself from having this happen by asking the right estate planning questions. Ask your lawyer these four questions to ensure you have the right documents in your estate planning portfolio.
1. What Percentage of Your Practice Is Estate Planning?
Some firms only focus on estate planning and elder law. Other firms offer legal services in several areas of the law, one of which is estate planning.
You want to hire an estate planning lawyer, not a lawyer that does estate planning. So ask your attorney how much of their practice they dedicate to estate planning.
It’s ok if the firm offers a variety of services. Just confirm that your attorney dedicates more than 50% of their time to the practice of estate planning. This ensures you have someone who is dedicated and not just a dabbler.
Someone who only spends 10-20% of their time working on estate planning won’t have the knowledge or experience to advise and represent you effectively.
2. Will You Help Avoid Additional Costs and Delays Related to Probate?
When your estate goes through probate, the distribution of your assets can get delayed in the court system. This means your heirs have to wait to receive the inheritance you intend for them.
Your estate planning attorney should be able to guide you through your options to avoid probate. This way, your assets automatically transfer ownership without having to go through the court.
3. Will You Represent My Estate Should Someone Contest It?
While you hope that your estate will get distributed in the manner in which you intend. Sometimes this is more difficult than you expect it to be.
Sometimes people contest a will because they’re unhappy with their inheritance. Other times the deceased forgot to account for assets. Then sometimes the deceased made a promise or agreement that is not accounted for in the will.
You need to know what happens and who looks out for your interests should someone contest your will. Speak with your lawyer to learn about the steps involved in protecting your wishes.
4. What Is the Tax Liability for My Estate Assets?
This will vary from state to state and can change based on how you transfer your assets. Ask your attorney how you can minimize the tax liability of your estate and heirs.
With this said, you need to look for an attorney that is continuously participating in continuing education. Federal and state laws continually change when it comes to estate tax law.
You need an attorney who’ll be vigilant in updating your estate documents. What is ideal today may not be the best choice for your situation five or ten years from now.
This is especially true when you consider that your financial and asset portfolio should also change and grow over the years.
Ask These Estate Planning Questions
When it comes to preparing your estate documents, you need to ask your lawyer these estate planning questions. That way, you are fully informed and can make smart decisions.
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