How Does An Estate Attorney Prepare Wills and Trusts?

Estate planning is a critical step in protecting your assets after you pass away. In most cases, proper estate planning requires working with an estate attorney who will guide you through your options surrounding wills and trusts.

Because wills and trusts are different types of legal documents, the process of preparing them differs as well. Here’s how your an estate attorney prepares wills and trusts: 

How an Estate Attorneys Prepares Wills

In creating a will, your attorney guides you through a thorough process that includes: 

  • Understanding what assets are controlled by your will, beneficiary designations, and whether a trust may be helpful for your situation. 
  • Understanding death taxes and options on how to address inheritance tax for probate and non-probate assets. 
  • Discussing options on how to address inheritances passing to young beneficiaries. 
  • Legally putting your wishes to paper. You decide who you would like to inherit each asset, how death taxes will be paid, and who will be in charge of administering your estate when you die. The lawyer provides options and makes sure the documents are drafted correctly to carry out your wishes.  
  • Choosing an executor to manage your estate.
  • Choosing a guardian for your children (if necessary).
  • Choosing someone to manage property for your beneficiaries (if necessary).

In addition, your attorney will then draft your will, ensure it is properly signed, and provide advice on options to store it safely.

How an Estate Attorneys Prepares Trusts

In creating a trust, your attorney guides you in:

  • Understanding the differences among a testamentary trust, a revocable living trust, and an irrevocable trust. The lawyer will discuss when one approach may be better than another, provide options, and then let you decide which is best for your scenario. There needs to be a purpose and good reason for creating a trust. 
  • Determining what property or assets go into the trust.
  • Determining who the beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries of the trust will be. 
  • Determining the rules of the trust, such as when and how beneficiaries receive assets.
  • Selecting your trustees, and deciding what provisions should be included for the possible removal of a trustee, and identifying secondary trustees in case the first named trustee is unavailable to serve.
  • Making sure that the trust you create is properly funded. This step is critical because the trust will not work as intended unless it is properly funded. 
  • Understanding the importance of properly completing beneficiary designation forms. Often, the custom beneficiary designation form must be reviewed by the financial institution holding the retirement account or by the life insurance policy before they will accept the form. 

From there, your attorney will draft your trust and, as needed, meet with your trustees. 

Your estate attorney’s knowledge of the applicable laws and experience in drafting many trust documents will ensure your property is passed on to your beneficiaries in the most effective way possible. 

Getting Started With An Estate Planning Attorney

Navigating estate planning should be completed with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. Contact us for assistance!

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