As we enter our golden years, it is important to begin thinking about issues related to aging. Whether this is you or someone you care about, you may wonder about concerns such as healthcare, nursing home costs, what happens to your assets once you are gone, and what type of legacy you would like to leave. As the legal procedures around estates can be complicated, it can be helpful to enlist the help of an estate planning attorney. So, what exactly does an estate planning attorney do? That’s what we at the Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen are here to answer.

What is an Estate Planning Attorney?

An estate planning attorney is a lawyer who has specialized training in issues related to distributing your assets. They are familiar with details regarding beneficiaries, protecting your assets from probate, and avoiding unnecessary taxes.

Here are 5 Things an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Do

  1. Designate Your Beneficiaries:  If you do not legally establish where you want your assets to go, the courts will make a determination. You can avoid this complication by choosing people and/or organizations as beneficiaries.
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Taxes and Probate:  Similar to the above, if you do not have a plan to distribute your legacy, Florida law will take over. This could incur unnecessary taxes as well as decisions that may not match your desires.
  3. Know What Legal Documents Best Fit Your Situation:  Individual estates can vary from simple to complicated. There are different kinds of trusts as well as wills and durable power of attorney.  We can help you figure out what you need for your specific situation.
  4. Protect Your Wishes if Disputes Arise:  While we all hope that our wishes are carried out without question, disputes sometimes happen. Should an organization or loved one challenge your estate plan, we can remain above the emotions to protect your interests.
  5. Adjust Your Will or Trust as Needed:  Given that you may draft your first will or trust years before your life ends, it is possible that the details of your estate, your family situation, or your wishes may change. If you wish to adjust the details of your legal documents during that time, an estate planning lawyer can help you update them.

Additional Reasons You May Want to Hire an Estate Planning Lawyer

In addition to the list above, there are many other reasons why you may want to hire an estate planning lawyer. Regardless of the size of your estate, it is your estate, and you should determine your legacy. While many people leave assets to immediate family, estate attorneys can also help with specific situations such as:

  • Charitable trusts
  • Dis-inheriting specific relatives
  • Blended family beneficiaries, such as a stepchild
  • Protecting vulnerable family members who need Supplemental Needs Trust, Medicaid or SSI
  • Any other unique way you would like your estate distributed

No matter how simple or complicated your estate, situation, or wishes, hiring an estate planning lawyer is a powerful way to help you distribute your assets according to your wishes. If you would like help planning for your estate and legacy in this way, contact the Law Offices of Amy B. Van Fossen to schedule a meeting with an attorney.