Even if you’ve never thought about it before, every person has an estate. That estate could include your house, car, bank accounts, life insurance policies, personal possessions, or even your furniture. To lay out precisely what happens after you pass away, you’ll need an estate plan.
An estate plan consists of a combination of legal documents that will list who you want to receive your assets when you pass away. Not only that, it can detail precisely when these items and money will be distributed.
Everyone has specific wishes for what happens to their things when they pass away, but not everyone sits down to plan all of that out. Sometimes, people feel invincible, and in other cases, they feel they need to wait to plan one out.
Having a solid estate plan that you work on with an estate planning attorney will help ensure your wishes are met when you pass away.
Estate Planning Is Essential, But Often Avoided
Many people put off planning their estate. Maybe you’re too busy, or you think you have plenty of time left to plan out your end of life wishes. Maybe you just don’t want to deal with the paperwork itself as it seems to be overwhelming.
In other cases, people may not want to think about it because they simply don’t want to think about their death. Other times, people worry that they don’t have enough assets to even worry about it.
Regardless, it’s vastly important to plan what happens to your estate before you pass away to ensure your wishes are met to the fullest.
Do I Really Need An Attorney?
You could write your own estate plan — nothing prevents you from doing so.
However, an estate planning involves drafting legal documents, and there are many times where that document will need to stand up in court if it comes under any scrutiny. Any incorrect or inconclusive language could put your estate in jeopardy.
Hiring an estate attorney is the best way to ensure your estate plan is ironclad and can hold up to the test of time. When you’re not around to defend what you meant in your plan, it is essential to know your attorney did the work required in making that document capable of defending your wishes to the very letter.
What Happens If I Die Without an Estate Plan?
If there is no estate plan when you pass away, the assets will be distributed according to the probate laws of the state you live in. In this case, Alabama intestate succession laws come into effect. When your estate plan is properly drafted, many of the cumbersome and expensive formalities of estate distribution are avoided.
In Alabama, probate laws are extraordinarily complex and leave out many you may consider family, such as stepchildren and foster children. Much of your wealth may be used to pay the courts, attorneys, or other parties that could have been passed to your loved one with a property estate plan.
Regardless if you tell someone in your family that they’re entitled to something when you pass away, it doesn’t matter to the state unless it’s written down in a valid will or trust. If it isn’t, everything is distributed via Alabama intestate succession laws.
To prevent future heartbreak and financial insecurity of your family members, planning your estate is an absolute must.
An Estate Planning Attorney Can Protect You and Your Family
An Alabama estate planning attorney can help ensure that your estate plan includes documents that make your loved ones’ lives easier when you pass. They’ll make sure everything needed is handled ahead of time, letting your family focus on grieving, instead of worrying about finances and dividing assets.
Attorneys can ensure that specific language is used throughout the document, ensuring that your assets go to the correct people, trusts are set up for minor children, and guardianship nomination is settled.
One missing word or signature can mean that your family loses the protection your estate plan provides. An attorney is trained to make sure every piece of your estate plan is accurate and up-to-date, ensuring that your estate is handled the way you want.
Attorneys Can Prevent Mistakes
By hiring an attorney to help you plan your estate, you can avoid many common pitfalls plaguing others who venture into estate planning alone.
One mistake that people often make when planning their own estate is in designating beneficiaries. Naming particular beneficiaries to receive your IRA or 401k can mean significant tax implications for the recipient.
An attorney will also help go through your family history and ensure you haven’t left anyone out of the estate plan, and ensure you make changes to your plan as changes in your life occur.
Attorneys Help Reduce Those Taxes
As mentioned before, there can be significant tax implications on passing down some of your assets. Your attorney can help determine whether your estate is liable for specific federal estate taxes.
Attorneys are trained to help value your gross estate, determine what debts you will owe at the time of death, and handle any deductions your estate is eligible to.
This can prevent a considerable portion of your estate from going to taxes when it otherwise shouldn’t. Attorneys can ensure more of your money and assets go where you want it, rather than to the government.
Attorneys Provide Objectivity
Finally, attorneys can help you plan your estate with an objective stance. Family dynamics can add a layer of emotional distress to the estate planning process, and an attorney can help as an extra voice of reason to handle the current and future needs of your loved ones.
The attorney is there to provide you with direct and unbiased answers, which can protect your family down the road.
Ready To Plan?
While you may not want to think about what will happen when you pass away, you also want to make sure that your family is protected and taken care of. Having a will in place can help ensure that your assets get distributed in the way you want.
The experienced attorneys at Brackin & Johnson have been preparing estate planning documents of all kinds for decades. Whether your estate planning is simple or very complex, we will provide you with the estate planning solutions that you need to protect your family legacy.
Contact us today and let us assist you with all of your estate planning needs.