Estate Planning Lawyers in Strathmore, AB Securing Your Future
Local law can include the duties of both probate lawyers and estate planning lawyers in its vast web of coverage. The two professionals may even overlap slightly. We can simplify the vast majority of differences between the two types of lawyers:
- Estate planning lawyers form a direct relationship with a client. They can provide many services, including drafting living wills, developing living trusts, and drawing up powers of attorney. Estate inheritance taxes and elderly family member care taxes can often get out of hand; an estate planning lawyer can work toward reducing those. Ultimately, the duties of an estate planning lawyer focus on living people rather than those that have passed on.
- On the other hand, probate lawyers typically handle an estate after a person has perished. That person, the “decedent,” or their family will hire a probate lawyer to execute or administer the estate. A probate lawyer may even become a personal representative for the state if there is no more suitable person for that position.
Properly planning your estate can protect your assets and your family’s future. An estate plan can protect your assets, reduce unnecessary expenses, and do many other things.
What Are The Benefits of an Estate Plan?
Estate plans aren’t limited to the wealthy. No matter what tax bracket you’re in, if you don’t have a suitable estate plan to designate your affairs, you may leave your family behind, covering costly probate and final tax expenses.
What is Probate?
When you die, your assets have to go somewhere. And if there isn’t some sort of legal documentation in place when you pass, you’re leaving your property and monies behind for the courts to sort. Leaving the distribution of your personal finances and properties up to a probate court is a serious gamble, and you can bet your assets will wind up in the hands of the wrong people. Protect your beneficiaries by establishing an estate plan, designating an heir (or heirs), and keeping your successors from accruing a costly debt.
Beneficiaries can be anyone you want, be they your:
- Next of kin
- Business Partner
- Favorite Charity
So long as you and your estate planning lawyer correctly name that person as an heir to your possessions and monies, they will be the beneficiary. Otherwise, a court will be forced to divide your assets in ways you may not wish. This could be anything from your bank account holdings, investments, real estate, housing, or even your children’s guardianship.
What Else Can I Do With My Estate Plan?
Suppose you are a person who does not have someone that you want to receive your assets. Maybe most of them have already passed; perhaps you just preferred to keep to yourself; maybe you’re the Bill Gates type and want your children to earn everything they have like you did. There are still options for your estate that may interest you;
- Business or Stock: Maybe you owned a company or had significant stock in one that you cared about; an estate plan allows you to name someone (like a business partner or someone you trust) to take over and run that responsibility after you are gone.
- Charity: Suppose you have a local or national cause about which you care greatly. They could liquidate your assets and use that money to continue their good works.
- Take care of yourself while living: An often overlooked benefit of having an estate plan in place is the aspects that could apply while you are still alive. You can dictate within your estate plan what person you would prefer to make decisions for you if you are rendered incapacitated or incapable of taking care of things for yourself, mentally or physically.
Without a Will or Estate Plan vs. With a Proper Plan in Place
We’ve looked at what should happen by putting a proper estate plan in place: A probate lawyer will be able to prepare the probate process, help you name an executor, validate the paperwork, and make sure assets are distributed accordingly after you’re gone. However, not everyone puts a proper estate plan into place.
Without an estate plan, an administrator or probate lawyer becomes bound to follow intestate laws regarding property distribution. These responsibilities include:
- Locating, securing, and evaluating a decedent’s estate
- Finding and collecting insurance policies
- Appraising a decedent’s assets or subjecting them to appraisal
- Managing the finances of the estate during the process
- Determining debt validity and advising payments
- Filing required court documents
- Securing tax accounts or working with accountants during the final income tax filing
Do I Need an Estate Planning Lawyer?
If you have distributable assets or have been placed in a position of administration over a loved one’s assets, you probably want to consider consulting with an estate planning lawyer. You may be able to handle the situation yourself if the following statements are mostly factual for you:
- There is a will or trust in place already
- My family members are likely going to get along
- The estate has absolutely no debts, or there is sufficient money to pay them back
- I have a solid grasp of the estate laws in my province
If so, you should be okay to handle the proceedings yourself. If not, you may wish to get in touch with a lawyer; if you are the one drawing up an estate, get in touch with an estate planning lawyer. If you have been tasked with handling a decedent’s estate, speak with a probate lawyer.
What Are Some Tips to Help Avoid Probate Court?
Probate is a lengthy, costly public affair that can potentially tear apart an already grieving family. Here are some of the things you can do to add to your estate plan and further ward off probate drama:
- Right of Survivorship- Documentation exists to give someone joint ownership of your assets while you are still alive and full ownership when you pass.
- Living Trust- Like a will, a living trust can designate a trustee for your assets when you die. Your successor trustee gains control of the transfer process for your assets without going through probate court.
- “-On Death” Documentation- Deeding your bank accounts or other properties to be “transfer-on-death” or “payable-on-death” will appoint an heir to your physical and liquid assets, who will take ownership immediately upon your passing.