How do estate planning attorneys help our clients?
How does an estate planning lawyer help a client? Does the estate planning lawyer just document their wishes? Or does he/she counsel them, then design a plan for their situation? Clearly, it’s the latter.
For example, if someone walks in and says they want everything left to their children outright, should I put together a plan to do so?
Not necessarily. I'd want to get to know the kids better. What's their situation?
Perhaps one child is 30 years old and in a rocky marriage. Perhaps the second child is 25 years old and has creditor issues. Perhaps the third child is 20 years old and has Special Needs.
In each of these cases, clients would benefit from an explanation of the benefits of leaving assets to children in a trust. This could provide divorce protection for one child, creditor protection for another, and preservation of public benefits for the last one.
The Estate Planning attorney should outline each option and the consequences associated with each. So, I might explain to the client the benefits of leaving the assets in trusts with various attributes for the various beneficiaries.
We'll go over the pros and cons of the different alternatives. For example, in order to provide creditor protection, you’d use a trust with a third-party trustee and a completely discretionary standard. This would also require a tax return for the trust each year.
If the client takes their original route after hearing all the pros and cons, then what?
As long as the client's wishes are neither illegal nor unethical, the Trusts & Estates lawyer should carry them out and prepare the desired documents.
Also, I would document our advice, perhaps by asking the client to sign a letter stating that we have advised them of the advantages and disadvantages of taking an alternate route and they’ve decided to proceed against our advice.
An Estate Planning attorney is more than just a writer. Our most important product is not just the documents we create, but rather our advice, which is based on a wealth of technical training and our years of experience.
Please call me now to learn how I partner with you and guide you to protect your family’s future, and to keep the assets that you’ve sacrificed for, in your family.