What’s your take on estate plans? More than 50% of Americans think that estate planning is somewhat important, but only 33% have a will or living trust. The reason? 1 out of 3 thinks they don’t have enough assets to leave behind.
That’s simply not the case. Estate plans aren’t just meant for people with sprawling mansions and multiple cars. A trust or will allows you to control who inherits your assets- physical, financial, and digital- when you’re no longer around. It also saves your heirs a big tax bite and minimizes family feuds.
But can you draft an estate plan yourself? Truth be told, you can- but it’s not an easy process. Estate law is complex and might be difficult to navigate for someone with no prior legal experience. That’s why you need a seasoned estate planning attorney in your corner.
7 Signs You Need a Utah Estate Planning Lawyer
Consulting a competent and reputable estate planning lawyer can ensure you and your family are well-protected. Here are seven signs you should make your appointment pronto.
1. You Have a Blended Family
Second, marriages can be wonderful- exciting, fulfilling, and rarely dull! However, they pose a few unique challenges in estate planning, especially if you and your current spouse have children from previous relationships as well. You’d probably want to provide for your spouse while confirming that most of your property goes to your children.
Taking care of everyone you love isn’t easy. You’ll need an estate plan that fits your situation. An estate planning attorney can handle things for you. For example, they may suggest solutions like establishing a QTIP trust to cater to your family’s necessities long after you’re gone.
2. You Need to Update Estate Documents
Estate plans are never a one-and-done affair. You might make regular amendments to match your changing financial situation over the years.
However, updating these documents isn’t about making simple edits. An estate planning lawyer is wise enough to align estate plans with your current circumstances seamlessly. An updated estate plan is crucial to preventing confusion and arguments down the line.
Additionally, Utah estate planning attorneys are committed to upholding all legal procedures, so that nothing affects the distribution of assets once you’re gone.
3. You Have Minor Children
An estate plan is vital if you have minor children. Your attorneys will typically address the following.
Parents at risk of health problems or incarceration can legally appoint a guardian to care for their child’s needs, including shelter, education, food, and medical care. Guardians also manage the child’s finances till they’re of a certain age.
- Balancing Bequests
Like most people, you probably want to leave equal parts of your legacy to each of your children. Utah estate planning lawyers can suggest strategies to make that happen.
- Protecting an Inheritance
Sometimes, you realize your children are not ready to inherit an estate, more so if they are in their formative years. In such situations, an estate planning lawyer will recommend methods to protect assets from unwise spending habits, civil judgments, and creditor claims.
4. You Want to Determine or Reduce Tax Liabilities
Several factors determine whether your estate is liable for state or federal taxes, including:
- Gross estate value
- Deductions the estate takes
- Total expenses incurred during the settlement process
- The debt owed at the time of death
That said, setting up a trust is a great way to reduce probate and estate taxes. An estate plan directs what happens to your assets and specifies beneficiaries. An estate planning attorney can help you achieve this goal with ease.
5. You Want to Avoid Probate
Probate is the court process for transferring a deceased’s estate to their rightful heirs and beneficiaries. It’s lengthy, expensive, and very public, meaning anyone visiting the courthouse can get copies of your will and other legal documents.
It’s safe to say that probate and all its associated nuances are quite complicated. A good Utah estate probate attorney can help you avoid the probate process by assigning all your assets to the right beneficiaries. Furthermore, they can also guide your heirs through a legal contest should the need arise.
6. You Have Family with Special Needs
If you have a child or loved one with special needs, you’d want an estate plan that protects them through and through. This is particularly important since they can lose certain public rights when they inherit assets outright. Certain estate plans allow people with special needs to receive their inheritance without passing on government benefits.
But this area of estate planning is quite complex and is best assigned to a specialist. In other words, you should talk to an estate planning attorney with specific expertise in special needs trusts to plan the best future for your family.
7. You Want to Disinherit a Family Member
Disputes within the family can last generations. Sometimes, you might not see eye-to-eye with an heir and wish to eliminate them from your estate. This could also be due to:
- Previous support or gifts already given
- Lack of need or increased need
- Change in marital status
- Medical/health conditions
Whatever the case, disinheritance should never be treated lightly because it can trigger difficult ripple effects throughout your family. An estate planning attorney helps ensure your wishes are fulfilled even after you’re gone, so your heirs don’t encounter any unsavory surprises.
That’s not all. At times, a disinherited party may challenge a will if they believe they were wrongly excluded due to a simple mistake, undue influence, or fraud. Hire a reputable estate planning lawyer who will take care of the situation as smoothly and effectively as possible.
The Bottom Line
Many people shy away from estate plans because they’re a grim reminder of our mortality. However, it’s the best thing you could do for your grieving family. Save them the pain of complicated family dynamics and confusing inheritances by drafting a crystal-clear will/trust with your estate planning attorney. The sooner you do it, the better!
At Henriksen & Henriksen, our Utah estate planning lawyers, can help you draft an estate plan that will protect you and your family, save you time, and reduce expenses. From guardianship and probate to trusts and wills, we can handle all areas of estate planning hassle-free. Contact us to schedule your first free consult today!