Estate Planning Lawyers in Lenoir County Helping Clients Protect Their Assets
Your assets, like bank accounts, investments, real estate, and other property, have likely taken a lot of time and effort to accrue. An estate plan is the best way to protect those assets and ensure they are distributed to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. Without an estate plan in place, your family could be left in the dark, trying to guess about your final wishes and inheritance.
With an estate planning attorney on your side, you can minimize taxes and name beneficiaries of your estate, whether they are family members, corporations, or charities. Don’t leave your estate matters up to chance. Call Swindell Law Firm, PC today at 252-262-1325 for a free estate planning consultation.
What Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Do?
When most people hear about an estate planning lawyer, their mind immediately jumps to creating a will. While an estate planning attorney can assist with that, there is actually much more that they do. An estate lawyer will help you with any end-of-life arrangements you’d like to make, including childcare making plans for your children, designating medical care for yourself or your spouse, and lowering your tax burden. An experienced attorney will sit down with you and listen to your wants and needs to ensure your estate plan is precisely how you’d like it to be.
What is an Estate Plan?
Generally, an estate plan is a set of estate planning documents that dictate your healthcare and how to handle your assets if you are incapacitated or pass away. A good estate planning process will leave no questions unanswered and will tell your loved ones exactly how to provide financial benefits and allocate assets among themselves. There are multiple documents that an estate plan can have, but a will and a living trust are some of the most common documents.
Below are some details about wills and living trusts that can help you decide between the two:
A will is a simple document that explains what needs to happen to your estate once you pass away. A will can also assign guardianship of your minor children, dictate a named executor of the will, leave property to your children, and instruct your loved ones on how to pay taxes.
A living trust is similar to a will in that it names any beneficiaries of your estate and explains how your assets should be distributed. However, a living trust appoints a trustee who will manage the distribution of your property after your death. Living trusts contain your assets and provide asset protection while you are still alive and after you pass.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Will?
A will is one of the most common and beneficial estate planning documents you can create. A will designates precisely how your assets are distributed between family members to avoid disputes after your death. Similarly, a will protects your estate from any legal questions that may arise after you pass. Because asset distribution can cause contention between family members, creating a document spelling out your last will and testament is essential.
Additionally, a will also provides the following benefits:
- Provides a way to give to charity
- Prevents delays in asset distribution
- Assigns a neutral third party as the distributor of the estate
- Documents your final wishes
- Gives your family members peace of mind
What Are the Benefits of Having a Living Trust?
While a living trust is similar to a will, some additional benefits could make it the right choice for your estate plan. A will is subject to the probate process, which can happen if anyone questions the validity of your last will and testament. During the probate process, a judge will examine the will to see if it stands up in court. If the court decides the will is invalid, it can order the executor to delay asset distribution. The court can also estimate the value of your estate and order the executor to pay off taxes and debts that you owe on your estate. Creditors will also be notified and may file claims for any money the estate owes them.
A living trust is not subject to the probate process. Because of this, all property within a living trust is immediately granted to the beneficiaries of the estate without any guidance from the court. This can be very beneficial for those who wish to avoid the probate process or save time during asset distribution.
Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
You’ve worked hard for your assets all your life. An estate plan is the best way to ensure those assets get passed down in a timely manner without questions from the court or other family members. Plus, with the right estate planning lawyer, you can use strategies to lower your tax burden and avoid tax levies.
If any of the following are true, you would likely benefit from a consultation with an estate planning lawyer:
- You wish to leave money to a family member with special needs or a disability
- You want to reduce your tax liability
- You want to assign a specific person to take care of your affairs after your death
- You’d like to safeguard your family’s financial future
Even if you are not elderly or incapacitated now, no one knows what the future may hold. Planning your estate now is the best way to protect your assets and ensure your family members get the property, money, and investments they deserve after your passing. At Swindell Law Firm, PC, we have years of experience in estate planning and would be happy to assist you with any estate matter. Contact us today at 252-262-1325 for a free consultation.