Wilmington Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you are just getting started with an estate plan for the very first time, need help updating your documentation after a change in circumstances, or want to make sure that everything is set up accurately and smoothly, finding a Wilmington estate planning attorney who can answer your questions and give you peace of mind is key.
Even when the decisions are fairly straightforward, making sure that the estate planning paperwork is accurate to avoid unforeseen complications can be full of logistical hurdles. Here’s what you need to know about estate planning needs.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning ensures that your remaining property (real estate, trusts, bank accounts, etc.) are distributed as you desire during the estate administration process. It can also include leaving instructions about how decisions should be made for your medical and financial needs if you are incapacitated—temporarily or as a condition of end-of-life decline. While these contingencies can be hard to consider, many people find it comforting to know that their families and assets will be taken care of when they no longer can.
Estate planning consists of many different components, and your plan will be unique for your situation, specific estate planning services, and individual legal issues.
Some of the most common considerations include the following:
- Durable power of attorney. Assigning someone durable power of attorney grants that personal representative a wide range of authority to act on your behalf as an agent regarding financial decisions. This position can be assigned outright or set up to spring into effect if you become incapacitated
- Trusts. Setting up trusts, including living trusts, is one way to protect your assets. These financial agreements shelter assets from certain taxes, ensure that money is protected from probate, and provide privacy and security
- Last will and testament. Your last will and testament is a legal document that outlines your wishes for how your property will be distributed upon your death. It may also include guardianship information for dependent children.
The specific documentation you’ll need to set up your estate plan will depend on many factors, including the size and variety of your assets, the complexity of your plans, and the best methods to execute your wishes.
A lawyer with experience in trust-based estate planning can give you a clear and thorough picture of your options and help you set up the best combination of documents to cover all your needs.
What Are Common Estate Planning Mistakes?
There are many missteps and miscalculations people make during estate planning. Contacting a Wilmington estate planning lawyer can help you avoid these pitfalls and ensure that you address your particular legal matters and your wishes are carried out exactly as you want.
Mistake 1: Not Having an Estate Plan
Without a doubt, the most common mistake is failing to make an estate plan. Many people put this task off until it is too late or believe they don’t have enough assets to worry about the legal process of drafting wills and putting other plans into place. The hard truth is that everyone has an estate, and failure to plan for what will happen to your assets opens the door to family conflict and costly legal proceedings during the probate process.
Without an estate plan, your assets will be probated according to intestate succession laws, a court-supervised process for determining who will administer the estate and how to distribute assets. A probate proceeding can be a lengthy and costly process, adding unnecessary stress and angst to an already difficult time.
Mistake 2: Naming a Single Beneficiary
Many people make an estate plan without considering what could happen if their plans don’t pan out. You may have a person in mind to inherit all of your assets, but what happens if they pass away before you do? At that point, your entire estate plan may become impossible to fulfill. Be sure to name a beneficiary and a contingency plan for what happens if that person is unavailable.
Mistake 3: Not Updating Your Documentation
Setting up an estate plan early in life is a smart move. However, life is inevitably going to change. Marriages, divorces, births, and deaths are all a part of life’s ups and downs, and these significant life changes can potentially change the landscape of how you want to distribute your assets. If your family has changed, but your estate planning documents haven’t, you may not have your most recent wishes in place.
Mistake 4: Using an Online Legal Service
Online legal services are not attorneys, nor do they stand behind their estate planning documents. If something goes wrong, even if you’ve paid to have one of their attorneys review your document, they walk away, free of liability. These online companies may or may not be legitimate and often use a bait-and-switch approach by advertising “Get a Will for $39” or “Get a Trust for $69”, and when you finish the process, it could end up being 10 or 20 times as expensive.
We have reviewed many online estate plan documents, and ultimately, they are not well crafted. Don’t invest in a half-baked approach. Instead, hire a Wilmington attorney that works for you to design a solid estate plan to protect the assets of your life.
Mistake 5: Hiring an Attorney That Does Not Focus on Estate Planning
Anyone can draft a will or a trust if they pass the bar exam. But estate planning laws change daily and a law degree, alone, doesn’t exactly make them “qualified” to do so. If an attorney practices in another area, such as business law, do not hire them for your estate plan. They may miss recent changes or trends that could cause you to lose advantages or options that may be important to you. Hire an attorney from a law firm that focuses on estate planning, such as a probate lawyer—you will be glad you did.
Johnson Legal: Providing Peace of Mind for Families in Need
At Johnson Legal, family means everything. That’s why we’re committed to helping Wilmington residents and their families with estate administration matters. Don’t leave your family’s future up to shoddy DIY tools—contact a Wilmington estate planning attorney experienced in probate law from Johnson Legal to provide legal assistance. Call our law firm today to schedule your consultation.