Estate planning is the process of determining how you will provide for your loved ones after your death. When you sit down with your estate planning lawyer, they will ask about your assets and thoughts on how you want to distribute them. They will also help you plan for when you are incapacitated and unable to explain your wishes.
What Happens to My Assets When I Die?
When you die, all your real and personal property goes into your estate. If you owe any bills, like credit card or medical debts, your personal representative will pay them out of your estate. Then, the representative will distribute any remaining property according to the directions in your will. Most wills go through probate court to determine the will’s validity and resolve any disputes. If you do not have a will, the court will distribute your assets according to your state’s intestacy laws. An attorney can help anyone with power of attorney over the estate of a recently deceased person navigate the probate court process. An attorney can also help you design an estate plan that avoids probate.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?
Estate planning lawyers are well-versed in the laws governing asset distribution after someone dies. Your attorney will help you plan and draft documents to ensure your possessions are delivered to the proper people without court disputes or hefty taxes. They thoroughly understand the state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed after your death.
Your estate planning lawyer will help you plan for the future by:
- Creating a will that will be difficult to challenge after death;
- Identifying your heirs and beneficiaries;
- Preparing a living will specifying your preferences for end-of-life care;
- Providing someone with a durable power of attorney so they can make financial or medical decisions for you;
- Planning to minimize or avoid estate tax as much as feasible;
- Finding ways to keep your estate out of the probate process;
- Helping you set up a trust or a testamentary trust to manage your assets throughout your lifetime and after your death;
- Naming legal guardians for your minor children;
- Planning your philanthropic contributions;
- Arranging for unforeseen circumstances, like your beneficiary’s death; and
- Answering your questions about estate planning, taxes, and state laws.
With our help, you can rest easy knowing your decisions are in line with the law and can be enforced in court.
How Much Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Charge?
How much you need to pay for estate planning depends on where you live, what services you need, how complicated your case is, and how the lawyer charges.
Estate planning attorney fees are usually based on the complexity of your state and county requirements. For example, New York only taxes estates that exceed the basic exclusion amount. If your estate is larger than that amount, your estate may need extra management to avoid a hefty tax bill. You’ll also encounter different fees for different services. A simple will or power of attorney usually takes less time and costs less than a more complex estate plan.
When hiring an estate planning lawyer, you may encounter a flat fee or an hourly rate. Neither way of billing is better than the other, and they are usually used for different tasks. Lawyers often charge a flat fee to help you draft documents like wills and durable powers of attorney. An attorney is more likely to offer a flat fee if they can reliably estimate how complex your paperwork will be. However, you may pay an hourly rate if your estate is more complicated or you need an attorney to manage your estate. They may also charge by the hour to handle disputes on your behalf or ensure your will is carried out the way you want it to be.
Lamkin Law Offices: Offering Our Experience To Plan Your Estate
Talking about what will happen after you die or become incapacitated is not always comfortable. Andrew M. Lamkin has been helping New Yorkers protect their assets and provide for their families since 2006. He can help with planning and managing your estate, navigating probate, or administering your estate. When you hire the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C., you can expect personal attention and compassionate representation.
Estate planning isn’t only for the wealthy. Every adult can benefit from creating a clear plan for their family before they die. Don’t wait to plan your estate. Contact us today online or by phone for a free consultation.