Q: How large does my estate need to be in order to justify hiring an estate planning attorney?
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.
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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