Grieving the loss of a dear one can take its toll on those left behind. It becomes worse when they have to go through legal battles over the deceased assets while still mourning. With proper estate planning, individuals can determine how their assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after their death.
It also makes provision to cater to the individual if they become incapacitated. Having a trust attorney can help individuals with their estate plans. A trust attorney will provide the necessary legal assistance that you need to help you put your affairs together. In this article, we will be looking at who a trust attorney is and what their role is in an estate plan.
Who Is a Trust Attorney?
A trust lawyer, also known as an estate planning attorney, is a lawyer that helps individuals to set their affairs in order before they pass away. A trust lawyer specializes in estate planning and helps clients draft legal documents such as wills and trusts. They essentially document, organize and manage the transfer of assets from individuals to their heirs and beneficiaries.
Estate lawyers are much like family lawyers, as their work often involves interacting with family members and other individuals connected to an estate. If you have a significant amount of assets, or would simply like to make adequate provisions for your loved ones upon your passing, then a Trust Lawyer is who you need. Trust lawyers specialize in setting up and managing trusts designed to ensure that your wishes and those of your family members will be fulfilled after you pass away.
The Roles of Trust Attorneys in an Estate Plan
Trust attorneys serve their clients in several important ways relating to an estate plan. And so, here are 6 roles of trust attorneys in an estate plan
Trust Attorneys Help You Create Your Will
A Will is a legal document that specifies how you want your assets distributed upon your passing. A Will also lays out your wishes regarding how your young children will be cared for. A Will also names the executor, the person in charge of carrying out the details of your will.
An Estate planning attorney will help you put your assets together and make an official document stating how you wish your assets to be disbursed. And also stating all beneficiaries, which could include both individuals and organizations. The estate planning attorney talks you through the entire process to ensure that you understand the legal implications of the document.
Trust Attorneys Help You Designate Your Beneficiaries
A beneficiary designation is an important aspect of planning your estate. It is the process or act of naming a specific person who will inherit an asset in the event of your passing. Designated beneficiaries are often named for assets such as life insurance policies, savings and retirement accounts.
When the account holder passes away, their assets are transferred to the named beneficiary. One thing to note about designated beneficiaries is that they have greater flexibility in withdrawing funds from inherited assets.
This is why you need your estate planning attorney to advise and guide you on designated beneficiaries. Designated beneficiaries will usually supersede a Will.
The bank or insurance company that manages the asset will usually transfer the asset to your named beneficiary, regardless of what is written in the will. So you must make sure that there won’t be any conflicts. In cases with no designated beneficiaries, such assets will usually be transferred to the deceased estate.
Trust Attorneys Help You to Establish Power of Attorney
This is another important function of an estate planning attorney. In the event that you do become mentally or physically incapacitated, provisions need to be made for someone who can act and make decisions in your stead.
Different forms of power of attorney exist, and each is designed to confer power on a person to act on your behalf in specific matters. These include general power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and medical power of attorney.
Your estate planning attorney will guide you to fill and sign the power of attorney form, which confers authority on a trusted friend or family member and takes effect the moment you become physically or mentally incapable.
Your estate planning attorney can also guide you in making a living will. A living Will is a legal document that specifies the type and level of medical care a person wants to receive in the event they’re unable to communicate their wishes.
This differs from a living trust. A living trust specifies how an individual’s assets should be shared if they become incapacitated.
Reducing or Avoiding Estate Tax
Another important role of your estate lawyer is helping to reduce Estate Tax. Estate taxes are assessed based on a deceased person’s estate and paid by the estate. While inheritance taxes are assessed based on the heirs and beneficiaries and paid by them. In some cases, arrangements can be made by the estate to pay inheritance taxes on behalf of its beneficiaries.
Without a competent will and estate lawyer, your estate can get swallowed up in taxes, leaving very little for your loved ones. Your estate planning attorney can help you set up trusts, establish joint accounts and make irrevocable gifts. All these significantly remove assets from your estate, thereby lowering the taxes.
Helping to Avoid Probate Court Processes
When an individual dies without leaving a will, it can be difficult for their loved ones. The deceased assets will be assigned to the surviving spouse in this situation. Where there is no surviving spouse, the deceased assets will go into probate.
Even in cases where a will exists, issues might often arise if one or more family members decide to contest the will. This is where a lawyer for probate comes in. Most people often ask what probate lawyers are and what they do.
The function of a probate lawyer is to review the will and to prove that it is legal and that the deceased was in their right mind and not under any form of duress when they signed it. And if there’s no will, the Probate attorney ensures that the assets go to the right beneficiaries, according to intestate laws.
Probation can be a very complicated and lengthy process. And while it is going on, no part of the asset can be touched. They just keep being depleted by taxes, legal fees, and other expenses. Having an estate planning attorney will help ensure that those you leave behind do not have to go through this process.
Helping to Set Up Living Trusts on Your Behalf
A revocable living trust is a legal document that is created while you’re still alive. It specifies how your property will be distributed after your death. The difference between a trust and a will is that while a Will only takes effect upon your death, a trust is effective the moment it is written and signed.
The trustee automatically becomes the owner of whatever assets you place within the trust instead of you. The trust can also carry certain terms. Instructing the trustee to transfer the assets or part of them to beneficiaries you have designated.
Estate planning isn’t only for the wealthy. And it doesn’t have to be an expensive or complicated process. A competent and experienced trust lawyer can work with you and guide you through creating an estate plan that suits your specific financial and family situations.
With a good estate planning attorney, you can make adequate plans for when you’re no longer physically and mentally capable of making decisions. You can protect your family from complicated and unnecessary legal procedures, and you can ensure that your loved ones are adequately taken care of in the event of your passing.