Legally speaking, nearly everyone has an estate.
Your estate consists of all the property you own, including your home, cars, furniture, bank accounts, and cash, among other things.
You’ve probably worked very hard to acquire these assets. As a result, it may be worth your while to decide what happens to them once you pass away.
This is what estate planning is all about, developing a strategy in advance that establishes who inherits your property after you die. In other words, an estate plan is a set of legal documents that protects your assets and ensures they pass on to your loved ones after your death/incapacitation.
Estate planning is a complicated process with a wide variety of components. It may feel like a daunting chore, but it is certainly essential.
First, let’s look at why you should invest in estate planning.
Anyone, no matter the size of their estate, can benefit from estate planning. Having an estate plan is crucial because it:
- Protects Your Loved Ones
When you die without an estate plan, your property is distributed as per the laws of intestate succession. A court examines your assets and decides who gets what. This is an expensive and lengthy process that can easily take a toll on your grieving loved ones.
Plus, while the intestacy laws are made to facilitate fair disposition, the court wouldn’t know which of your legal beneficiaries are fiscally responsible. Consequently, it may go to someone you did not have in mind, while your favored recipient gets nothing.
Drafting an estate plan allows you to nominate capable heirs to your property. In other words, you get to name your assets, inheritors, as well as an executor who implements your wishes. It can also streamline the property disbursement proceedings and minimize wait times.
- Is Good for Tax Planning
Simply put, estate taxes refer to the fees charged when your property is transferred to an appropriate beneficiary at the time of your death. The tax is levied on the current market value of the estate.
Depending on where you live, your property may be eligible for a state estate tax along with the one imposed by the federal government. As of 2021, the threshold for the federal estate tax is $11.7 million. However, states like Massachusetts and Oregon have an exemption level of $1 million.
Additionally, a few states collect inheritance taxes from the decedent’s heirs.
Although Utah does not have a state estate or inheritance tax policy, your heirs may still have to pay the federal estate tax if your property exceeds the exemption value. Moreover, in case you live in a state with inheritance taxes, your beneficiaries in Utah will end up paying the amount.
Unless you think ahead, estate taxes can put a severe dent in the legacy you want to leave your loved ones. Fortunately, robust estate planning is sure to help you relieve the tax burden on your heirs in several different ways.
- Prevents Family Feuds
Everyone wants a larger share of the pie, regardless of whether they deserve it. It’s not uncommon for relatives to squabble over a decedent’s property. And, in most cases, these fights get ugly and drive a wedge in the family.
This is where strategic estate planning can help. An estate plan allows you to pick a trustworthy individual to control your finances in your absence. As a result, there is no confusion regarding who calls the shots.
Furthermore, with an estate plan, you get to make specific arrangements for different family members, based on their circumstances.
Why Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
As you may have already guessed, estate planning is no child’s play. A single wrong sentence can turn your entire strategy on its head. This is why the process is best left to trained estate planning attorneys.
Estate lawyers are educated in all matters related to wills, trusts, and probate proceedings. They can help you develop an indisputable estate plan that does exactly what you want it to do.
There are several reasons why you should hire an estate planning attorney. Here are a few of them.
- Estate Planning is Complicated
Estate planning is not just about jotting down your end-of-life wishes. It involves the use of complex legal language to articulate and validate such desires in a court of law. Moreover, the terms in the estate plan should also keep the heirs’ tax implications to a minimum.
In case you have assets in different states, you’ll have to take each region’s estate laws into account while chalking out your estate plan.
Furthermore, not only are estate laws difficult, but they also change all the time. It’s nearly impossible for a layperson to keep track of every small update in the legal framework.
For these reasons, you may want to consult an attorney from an estate planning law firm to create your estate plan. A skilled lawyer will ensure that you have all the documents, financial tools, and essential processes in place to make your plan stand up before a judge.
Plus, delegating the task of drawing up an estate plan to a competent estate planning attorney will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders. You’ll get all the benefits of a well-thought-out strategy without pouring over piles of paperwork.
- Lawyers Help Save Money
Many people shy away from hiring a lawyer because they think it will cost them a fortune. But without an estate plan, your loved ones will end up spending more on probate proceedings, court fees, and estate taxes.
Working with an estate planning attorney in exchange for a flat legal fee may save your heirs these future expenses. To top that, an experienced lawyer will be able to dig deeper and secure additional financial advantages.
- You Can Get It Right the First Time
Imagine you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of do-it-yourself estate planning. You spend multiple nights Googling ‘what is probate’, researching estate laws, and drawing up a strategy. Once you finish, you realize you are not quite happy with the results.
So, you decide to make a second estate plan. But something happens to you before you get to it. Under such circumstances, your beneficiaries will have to adhere to the first, unsatisfactory testament.
You don’t get too many chances at making an estate plan. And, with a reputable estate planning attorney, you will only need one. They will help you ace it the first time.
At the end of the day, a strategic estate plan can secure your family’s future long after you’re gone. And, knowing that you have an experienced lawyer on your side is sure to help you sleep easy at night.
At Jeremy Atwood Law, our experienced attorneys are devoted to developing customized estate plans that reflect our client’s intentions in detail. From creating new estate plans to revising existing ones, we can help you do it all with ease. Simply give us a call at (801) 682-5234 or reach out to us through our online form.