The Need for Estate PlanningSubmitted by Mission Financial Planning on February 27th, 2013
An important part of financial planning is determining a plan for distributing one’s estate and getting it in writing. Without a plan in place, an estate is divided based on state law, and every state has different laws for “intestate succession”. While succession starts with close family members, percentages and priorities are not always what you might have assumed or preferred.
Without estate documents in place, the person in charge of administering and distributing your estate would also be determined by state law, or chosen by the courts.
Most people have some preferences about how they would like their life’s work and accumulations distributed or cared for, but many have avoided facing the sobering task of putting their preferences on paper.
Think of Wills and Trusts as instruction manuals for handling what’s left when you’re gone. Without directions, what gets assembled may not look at all like what you were trying to build. An estate plan should include directions for what or how much goes to whom, and should specify when (and sometimes even why) it should be distributed.
Estate law changes with some frequency, and has become increasingly complex. While most attorneys can draft a simple Will, additional nuance is often needed. Parents who have minor children, business owners – especially those with partners, family members of those with special needs, and anyone with philanthropic or tax -planning objectives will want a more in-depth document. In-depth documents, whether Wills or Trusts, should be drafted by an estate attorney.
What should you look for in an attorney?
Experience, education and reputation, of course. That being said, different people will have different responses to a lawyer’s style and personality, and it is very important that the attorney be friendly and able to put you at ease.
Mission Financial Planning will be able to recommend attorneys that other clients have enjoyed working with. In addition, you may want to ask your business attorney, CPA, friends and colleagues for local recommendations, and interview several lawyers either by phone or in person before choosing your estate planner.
Mission Financial Planning has prepared a list of questions to use when interviewing estate attorneys, it’s a great way to keep the interviews consistent enough to fairly compare the candidates.
Taking an intentional approach to finding a good attorney will help assure the quality of the documents now, and perhaps an easier execution when the time comes to use them.