Hiring an estate planning attorney is always a good idea.
Okay, that sounds self-serving, but stay with me on this.
Many people try to do estate planning on their own.
They think they can simply download a document from the internet and call it good.
Generally, this does not turn out well.
Even if a situation seems fairly straightforward, there are often “legal” nuances to consider.
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “Should I Hire an Estate Planning Attorney Now That I Am a Widow?,” an experienced estate planning attorney can benefit anyone, but engaging one is necessary under certain circumstances.
What might these situations be?
Estates with complicated assets.
Passing money as an inheritance is pretty simple.
Few estates only have simple assets like a bank account.
Many people have investments, hedge funds, a business, private equity, cryptocurrency, or real estate.
These assets need to be appraised and sometimes sold.
Planning for a wide range of assets requires an attorney who is experienced in estate planning law.
The estate might owe a federal or state estate tax.
Estate taxes can exist at both the state and federal level, depending on where you live.
The estate tax exemption threshold is not always the same for the federal and the state.
While an estate may be too small for a federal tax, it could owe a significant bill to the state.
Life insurance, real estate, and investments can quickly take an estate over a state threshold.
Advanced planning with an experienced estate planning attorney allows you to take advantage of a variety of tax saving strategies.
If one spouse has recently died, it may be wise to file for a Federal Estate Unified Tax Credit to transfer the unused exemption (known as the DSUE, or “Deceased Spousal Unused Exemption”) to the surviving spouse.
To accomplish this, a Form 706 estate tax return must be filed.
In some cases, this is not the best strategy.
Any attorney or a tax expert should be able to provide guidance.
The family is fighting.
When family does not get along, it can be helpful to have a third party help you plan for contingencies.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you minimize the will contests and other conflicts.
Not only do arguments create rifts in family, they can also be expensive and drain an estate through lawsuits.
Complicated beneficiary plans.
Some people desire to divide inheritances unequally among children.
Others may completely disinherit one child.
Sometimes charities are named as beneficiaries to an estate.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate how to accomplish complex wishes.
Because the nuances of estate planning law, you should work with someone who specialized in estate planning.
Reference: Kiplinger (July 5, 2022) “Should I Hire an Estate Planning Attorney Now That I Am a Widow?”