What Are the Duties of an Estate Planning Attorney?


An estate planning attorney assists you in making decisions and creating a plan for what happens to your heirlooms, life insurance proceeds, and other assets after your death. Estate planning experts provide a comprehensive collection of legal documents that can fulfill practically any purpose, going far beyond simply making a will.

What an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Do for You

A qualified estate planning attorney will evaluate your family's particular circumstances as well as your preferences and priorities. Families may need to ensure the safety and financial security of minor children, loved ones with special needs, or other dependents when their guardians die, depending on their circumstances.

An estate planning attorney can assist you in establishing a special needs trust and drafting documents that allow you control over what occurs shortly after your death. A lawyer can most likely meet your family's special planning needs.

Understanding the Legal Instruments Used by an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning lawyers utilize a variety of legal tools to offer you control over what happens to your estate if you are unable to make decisions on your own due to illness or injury, or if you die. In addition to these tools, your attorney should lead you through a number of responsibilities to ensure that your plan handles all parts of your estate and all conceivable situations.

The following are some of the most typical legal documents used in estate planning:

  • Wills and other similar documents;

  • Revocable and irrevocable trusts;

  • Trusts for people with special needs;

  • Guardianship documents for young children and/or dependent adults;

  • Durable financial decision-making power of attorney.

An estate planning team should also be able to assist you with the following:

  • Choose an executor of your will or an executor of your estate;

  • Choose a carer for any surviving dependents;

  • Designate beneficiaries for retirement and other savings plans;

  • Designate a beneficiary for life insurance payouts;

  • Funeral planning and prepayment of burial expenses;

  • Understanding your alternatives for meeting your family's specific requirements;

  • Asset protection and Medicaid planning;

  • Tax planning for estates and inheritances.

The Advantages of Having an Estate Planning Attorney in Your Life

It is critical to consider what happens to your estate after you die. You most certainly know what you want to happen to your assets and who should receive them. An estate planning lawyer should listen to your preferences and explain your possibilities for achieving your objectives.

When someone dies without a legitimate will and estate plan in place, the outcome is in the hands of the court, and these decisions are frequently made by a stranger. Working with an attorney to prepare an estate plan guarantees that you pick the person for the following actions.

  • Managing your estate;

  • Handling your most recent bills;

  • Providing that your final wishes are followed;

  • Distributing your assets in the manner you specified;

  • Receiving your life insurance policies, retirement plans, and other assets;

  • Overseeing any dependents or others listed in a trust's financial future.

Many people attempt to prepare a will and other estate planning papers using internet templates and other free tools. While this is preferable to nothing, you never know how it will fare in court if challenged. Furthermore, you forego many of the advantages that come with working with an estate planning attorney.

These advantages may include:

  • Receiving estate planning advice based on the specifics of your financial position;

  • Assisting you in including all possible assets in your plan;

  • Explaining how taxes may affect your loved ones' inheritance;

  • Medicaid planning and asset protection tailored to your specific situation;

  • Creating a strong, legitimate will;

  • Peace of mind knowing you have everything settled if you are unable to make these decisions or if you die.

How to Choose an Estate Planning Lawyer

Here are four factors to consider while looking for an estate planning attorney.

1. Begin with credentials

Lawyer associations and councils exist in many counties and states, to which an established attorney may belong. In some jurisdictions, an attorney might be named a "Super Lawyer," which is a network of highly-rated lawyers. Additionally, look into membership in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel;

2. Request recommendations

Word of mouth is still powerful, especially if an attorney is well-known in your community. Websites like SuperLawyers.com and Justia.com can help you find attorneys near you if you search online. 

3. Request a complimentary consultation

To help clients get to know their lawyers, several offer complimentary consultations. Use your discretion to see if you click. It's important to establish a connection with your attorney to discuss private family matters.

4. Look for areas of expertise

Depending on your situation, you may benefit from the services of an estate planning attorney with additional knowledge. If you have a degenerative or chronic health condition that's likely to result in incapacity or require in-home care, an elder law attorney may be helpful. Many lawyers also specialize in Medicaid or estate planning.