An estate planner (also called an estate lawyer or estate planning attorney) helps individuals choose the appropriate options for maintaining their estate after they pass away or become incapable of making the decisions themselves.  An estate planner is an attorney who specializes in the field of estate planning; assisting individuals in the process of drafting and implementing legal documents such as wills and trusts. Estate law and family law are closely related, as the estate planner must work with family members who are involved with the estate.

What Does an Estate Planner Do

Every person has his or her own set of objectives.  Some want to include his or her children and other family members in the process of maintaining the estate.  Some individuals want to allocate their property and wealth in a certain way but don’t know the best way to do so.  A qualified estate planner is able to describe various options and ensure that all wishes are carried out in accordance with all federal and state laws.

Estate planners can do the following:

  • Help put any brokerage accounts, business and partnership interests, debt, insurance policies, personal property, and retirement plans into trusts or other business entities
  • Create plans to eliminate or at least reduce estate tax
  • Prepare a will in a manner that helps avoid the probate process
  • Set up a Property Power of Attorney
  • Establish a living trust, which allows the estate to bypass probate while permitting the management of assets in case an individual is incapacitated
  • Ensure property and other assets are passed on to loved ones in the manner desired
  • Certify that all property is properly protected from any of your inheritors’ creditors
  • Generate an irrevocable or other type of trusts

Reasons to Hire an Estate Planner

First, estate planners are generally acutely aware of any estate laws that would affect your estate.  There are state laws governing certain legal documents such as a power of attorney, trust or will.  Other laws set guidelines for who can and can’t serve as a trustee or guardian, as well as who can act as a witness to the signing of a power of attorney, trust or will.  Each state has its own set of laws and if a will or trust does not follow all the laws of the state, it only causes headaches and trouble in the future.  Hiring an estate planner gives you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will not have the burden of dealing with a will or trust that does not align with state laws.

Estate planners generally have the knowledge, training, and expertise to sort through any complex financial or family situations.  If you can say yes to any of the following scenarios, then hiring an estate planner is definitely in the best interest of yourself and your family:

  • You have been married more than once.
  • You possess real estate in more than one state.
  • One of your family members is disabled.
  • You have dependents or minor children.
  • Your estate includes one or more businesses.
  • You do not have any children.
  • You have recently gone through a divorce.
  • Your assets include substantial IRAs or 401(k)s.
  • Your spouse or other close family members have recently passed away.
  • You would like to leave at least part of your estate to a charity.

If you said yes to any of the above scenarios then it is a good idea to look for a qualified estate planner to assist in putting together a plan that will ensure your wishes are all carried out and your family will be well looked after once you are no longer around to take care of them.