What is an Estate Planning Attorney And What do They do?

Engaging in estate planning attorney lets your loved ones know how you want your property handled if you pass away or become incapacitated. However, getting started isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Reuters Business will walk you through the process step-by-step to ensure your desires are carried out. A lot of people don’t know what an estate planning attorney is, what they do, or if they even need one in their lives.

Below, we explain why you need an estate planning attorney and why they are so crucial. Also, we’ll give you tips from Brian Zimmet, an expert on estate planning, to help you get ready for your first consultation. First, though, let’s define what it is that an estate planning attorney does.

Who or What is an Estate Planner?

A certified legal professional who focuses on estate planning is called an “estate planner” or “estate planning attorney.” These professionals, who may go by a variety of names including estate planning attorney and estate planner, are great resources for learning about the ins and outs of the estate planning process as well as the laws that govern the distribution, taxes, and distribution of an individual’s estate.

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney do?

An estate planning attorney’s work is a collaborative effort between himself, the client, and other financial advisors. Your estate planning attorney may be able to help you with the following, depending on your specific situation:

  • The process of making a will or other inheritance plans
  • Beneficiary identification
  • Creating a Power of Attorney (POA), Either Temporary or Permanent
  • Creating long-term care planning and advanced medical order.
  • Assisting you in selecting the most suitable trust for your circumstances.
  • Building Trusts to safeguard and pass on possessions before and after mortality.
  • Consult with your accountant about ways to lower your inheritance tax bill.
  • Locating options that will keep you out of succession

Why do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

If you hire an experienced estate planning attorney, you can rest assured that your wishes will be carried out without any room for disagreement, misunderstanding, or additional mental strain after your passing. Some additional benefits of using an attorney for your planning strategy are:

  • Specifically tailored your situation to suit your needs
  • Bring in an attorney who is much acquainted with your case to you.
  • Clarification of the laws that impact your will and inheritance
  • Assurance that your planning choices comply with applicable federal and state regulations
  • After your passing or disability, your trustee, administrator, and anyone else with power of attorney can look to this document for direction.
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How Much Does an Estate Planning Attorney Cost?

Estate planning attorneys offer highly specialist services that are difficult to imitate without extensive training and practice in the field. It may wind up costing a lot of money, but at least your loved ones and your assets will be safe.

During your initial consultation with an estate planner, they should discuss their costs with you. Initial consultation costs, hourly rates, and flat rates are all possible options. A attorney’s time is money, so expect to pay more the more time they invests on your inheritance.

The costs of hiring an attorney will differ from one lawyer to the next and from one jurisdiction to another. There is typically an introductory consultation cost that you’ll have to pay to speak with an advocate for the first time. Your succession planning requirements and compatibility with one another will be discussed at this time. Requesting an estimate in advance will allow you to quickly evaluate the costs of different attorneys.

Earlier in life you consult with an estate planning expert, the lower your annual upkeep costs will be. For instance, suppose you and your partner, both 68 years old, have decided to hire legal representation. If your partner dies at 75, you may need to make major changes to your inheritance plan. This will hold true even if, for example, you have another grandson.

How to Find an Estate Planning Attorney?

The best way to locate a good attorney to help you with estate planning is to get referrals from people you trust. The character of a counsel can best be judged by the client’s own encounters with him or her. You can also contact the municipal or state estate court, or the legal organization in your jurisdiction, for a recommendation. Your financial planner may also be able to make a referral, as they frequently work with attorney and have relationships with those in the field.

There is no universally accepted set of credentials or designations that can be attached to an estate planning attorney. Instead, they will call themselves estate planners, attorneys specializing in estate law, or something similar. Perhaps they only offer these services at their office. They may also talk about their background and expertise in succession preparation.

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Obviously, you need to hire a counsel who is licensed to practice law in your state if you want to get serious about estate planning. When it comes to estate planning, having knowledge of the laws in each state is crucial. This is due to regional variations in legislation and the estate process.

Without getting too deep into the weeds, it’s important to find a estate planning attorney who makes you feel at ease. After all, they’ll be guiding you through some tough, sensitive choices. There will be times when you have to be very open about your life and your plans for the future. If you can relax around your lawyer, the whole procedure will go more smoothly.

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How do I Prepare For a Meeting With an Estate Planning Attorney?

Preparing for your first estate planning meeting shouldn’t be scary. Just prepare with these four steps as compiled by experts:

Step 1: Select a legacy planning counsel

The hardest but most crucial step is choosing a legacy planning expert. Estate law, state and federal tax planning, and trust management attorneys are important. Your legacy plan may be incomplete otherwise.

References from peers, family, and coworkers. If your company offers a legal plan benefit, you can connect with a network of seasoned estate planning lawyers for a low annual fee.

Step 2: Get Organized

Get the best asset paperwork with full details. Zimmet suggests gathering these documents:

Statements of Assets Policies and DeclarationsAccounting of Debt
Bank account statements

Investments and brokerage account statements

Pensions and retirement account documentation 
Life insurance policies

Real estate and timeshare deeds
Automobile and watercraft titles

Beneficiary designations

Guardianship designations

Divorce decree(s)

Pre- or Post-nuptial agreement(s) or palimony agreement

Birth and adoption certificates 

Business ownership and partnership interest documents

Intellectual property, trademark, patent, and copyright documents 

Loan documents

Credit card statement 

Getting all this information may take some time, but it may lead to a significant finding for your attorney.

To illustrate, Zimmet offers the following hypothetical: “Say you have this beautiful estate and then you find out you don’t really own an asset, or you only own 50 percent of an asset.” “Perhaps you never got to signing that divorce paper, or perhaps there’s a premarital agreement that needs to be voided for inheritance planning reasons.”

Your estate planning attorney will tailor their services to you based on the aspect of your case. In spite of the extra work involved in collecting and arranging all of this documentation, you will be rewarded with a comprehensive estate plan that is uniquely tailored to your needs and those of your loved ones and assets.

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NOTE: Make sure you have digital backups of everything. You should back up your files by uploading the hard copies files to the cloud, should incase things got wrong you did have relevant document at your hand.

Step 3: Discuss your plans with loved ones

Discussing death with those you care about most isn’t easy to do. It’s important business, and there’s a lot to talk about. However, these challenging situations are the basis of your estate planning.

However, it’s not necessary to complete the tasks simultaneously. You can divide the dialogue into manageable chunks by talking about:

  • How will your finances be handled?
  • And who will look after your kids?
  • Who will be your legal representative in the event of your death? (the person who carries out your requests)
  • Who will make important healthcare choices on your behalf if you are unable to

Step 4: Gather Your Questions

You have gathered all of your paperwork and talked with your loved ones. The final stage is to think of questions you want to ask your estate planning attorney.

Expert Zimmet recommends including the following six questions:

  • Which possessions should I leave to my heirs?
  • How much will I owe in taxes as a result of my chosen estate plan, and what can I do to reduce that amount?
  • Just how do you guarantee that my final wishes will be carried out as I intended?
  • If you don’t have an estate plan in place, how long will it take you to create one?
  • Which file format should I use to organize my papers?
  • Do you perform regular reviews, and how do you manage changing my estate plan?

Authorized Certification of Estate Planning Attorney

Although license in estate planning is not required for employment, some attorneys choose to pursue it anyway. Some of these options may be accessible to experts who aren’t attorneys, such as CPAs and financial planners. The types of certifications an advocate has can be indicative of their areas of expertise. Knowing this might prove to be a game-changer when seeking a partner.

Some common kinds of credentials include the following:

Accredited Estate Planner (AEP): This is given by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils to legal professionals, certified public accountants, trained life insurers, and other qualified financial planners. Two graduate-level classes from the American College of Financial Services, five years of expertise in estate planning, and 30 hours of ongoing education every two years, of which at least 15 must be in estate planning, are all necessary for certification.

Chartered Trust and Estate Manager (CTEP): The American Institute of Financial Management offers a certification of Education in the fields of finance, revenue, bookkeeping, financial services, or law is required. The candidate must also have completed a certified training course and at least five relevant classes, as well as yearly ongoing education.

Certified Trust and Financial Adviser (CTFA): The American Bankers Association and the Institute of Certified Bankers awards this certificate within Three years’ expertise in the field, certification from an accredited training school, a completed moral pledge, letters of reference, and 45 hours of ongoing education every three years are all prerequisites.