Q: How large does my estate need to be in order to justify hiring an estate planning attorney?
A: Estate planning attorney does more than just help you get assets to family members. That is a secondary concern. My first thoughts are how to protect you will you are still alive. If you don't have proper Powers of Attorney & Advanced Healthcare Directives in place, your family may face uncertainty, chaos and high costs.
Most estate planning attorneys handle small estates on a flat fee basis and find ways to save you money now and your family money later.
A: Good question. In all fairness, the value of your estate should not be the primary motivator for hiring an estate planning attorney.
A proper estate plan will describe what actions need to take place to take care of you (your actual physical person) and your property. This "pre-paid" plan then describe what actions should be taken in case you are not able to properly communicate with anyone.
For example, are you unconscious or in a coma while in the hospital? Your Living Will explains to everyone what happens next. If you don't have any such document, then it is necessary to have a court appoint a guardian.
Are you suffering from dementia? Your estate plan tells us who can help you pay your bills and decide where you want to live. Again, a court-appointed guardian may be necessary.
After your death, a previously prepared trust provides instructions on how to dispose of your property. This can be completed much quicker and cheaper than probating a will.
Frankly, the cost of an estate plan can be significantly cheaper than the cost of a guardianship or the probate of a will. Not to mention, the savings in time, hassle, and avoidance of hurt feelings.
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