On behalf of Richard A. Lewis posted in Estate Planning on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
It’s always tempting to work with those you already know. When it’s time to create an estate plan it may seem like a good idea to call your old divorce lawyer or the lawyer who reviewed your commercial lease or insurance claim, but it’s not the best approach to securing your assets. The more specialized the attorney, the better the results will be. It’s true that anyone practicing in these fields has earned a law degree, but the nuance of specific fields requires regular research and devotion to the topic.
Estate plans are more complex than meets the eye
On the surface, it’s a matter of life and death: that sounds clear cut and relatively simple. Estate law is anything but. A misinterpretation of a word can affect how your assets are distributed or if a will is legitimate in the state’s view.
Moreover, life is extremely complex and so are the financial and personal dealings of most individuals. Even the simplest estates pass property, money and possessions from one to another. When items change hands, so does their potential use.
Complications are common because if the perceived value of possessions, sentimental value, and far more complex matters. Transferring a car title is relatively easy but if you have saved sperm or eggs for reproductive assistance, what happens to that material? What if the car title belongs to a vehicle of historic significance?
Similarly, if any of your familial or personal relationships involved legal paperwork at the start, it’s best to protect those relationships through an estate plan later on. Stepchildren, adopted children, ex-spouses, in-laws or domestic partners can be overlooked by probate court.
Inheritance tax can absorb your estate
Inheritance isn’t just a gift, it’s income for those who receive it and they pay a special tax whether it’s monetary, real estate or a physical asset. While any lawyer can use a template will, a skilled estate lawyer will consider your unique possessions and the best methods to pass them on with minimal taxes and legal fees. A poorly written will can be consumed by fees, leaving inheritors with little of what you’d planned.
Over the past decade, there has been considerable motivation to update inheritance taxes. An attorney from another field is unlikely to be familiar with current and pending regulations. A trust, for example, can reduce taxes and sets a timeline for distribution. Timing of inheritance is a key way to circumvent some of the cost, but it takes experience and planning to set it up.
Just like our lives, the law is constantly changing. To serve your loved ones best, you need an estate plan that understands the subtleties of asset distribution and inheritance tax, working in your favor instead of meeting bare minimum requirements. Estate lawyers present specialized plans for unique properties to ensure that your wishes are met without red tape or conversion losses in the exchange.