What is Estate Planning?
In the broadest sense, estate planning is a gift for your loved ones. Most people leave a big mess to their surviving friends and family. The mess is the complication of assets, digital accounts, unfinished business, legacy, etc. Some thoughtful estate planning before your death or incapacity can reduce or eliminate the mess your loved ones will have to deal with during what may be a sad and tragic time for them. Working with an estate planning attorney is not just for the wealthy to avoid estate taxes! There are many reasons for anybody to have an estate plan, even if you only have a couple hundred bucks in the bank. Estate planning commonly involves Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Directives (aka Living Will) and Guardian Nominations for minor children.
An estate planning attorney can help you get organized so you don’t leave a mess for your loved ones. He or she can also be a trusted person for your loved ones to turn to after you are no longer around…that is if you hire the right kind of attorney.
Document factory or trusted advisor?
At LayRoots, out approach to estate planning is to be a trusted, lifetime advisor to our clients. We consider the actual estate planning documents to be a byproduct of that relationship. Unfortunately, that is not the most common approach to planning in the legal industry. Most attorneys, and even non-attorneys, focus on churning out as many documents as possible.
During the traditional experience, you go and meet with with a lawyer who will tell you what documents he thinks you need, without actually asking about your goals and what’s important to you in life. Most often these attorneys already have a certain estate plan in mind because they believe there’s one good plan that fits everybody. Or worse yet…they sell you a certain type of plan that guarantees the attorney will make more money from your family once you’ve passed away. Because you want to do the right thing, you’ll pay for your pile of documents, sign them, and feel relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.
You’ll take your documents home, stash them away somewhere, and check estate planning off your to-do list. You’ll never think about your estate planning again and you likely won’t ever hear from your attorney again.
You might remember your lawyer said something about moving your bank accounts into the trust. Without any idea how to do that, it won’t get done. You’ll get busy with other things in life and as a result never get around to moving that bank account.
The price of an outdated estate plan
Several years later, you’ll refinance your house or sell it and buy a new one. You forget you were supposed to let your lawyer know or make sure you kept the title in the name of the trust.
Your children will get older, therefore making your guardianship choices outdated. You don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.
You’ll hear something about a change in the tax law, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it was something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it. And, you’d have to dig through boxes to find your trust documents so you could remember your lawyer’s name and find his or her contact information. Who has time for that?
It’s not until you become incapacitated or die and your family finds the binder you stuck up on a shelf. Many years passed and you never looked at again. They’ll realize your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets and the law.
Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same lawyer you used to prepare the documents, who is as happy as can be to probate your assets, which never made it into the trust.
What kind of Estate Planning Attorney do you want?
What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing families and businesses in mind. We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a life of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency. You want to know you’ve made the best decisions for you and your family and that your plan will work when your loved ones need it most. You want to make sure your children would be taken care of in the best way possible and will be prepared to receive your wealth if anything happens to you.
We also encourage communication with our clients. In fact, we’ve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a question. Our estate planning services are billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.
If you need to schedule a legal or strategic call with your attorney, a call will be scheduled when we’re both available. That way we can make the very best use of your time and not waste it by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth.
We also ensure the most important details of your planning are followed through on. We help you make sure your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime.
LayRoots Helps You Prepare for Life
Want to find out more about how an estate planning attorney may be of value to you? Schedule an initial call with LayRoots to learn more.
Estate Planning Attorney Articles:
The World of Online Estate Planning
The 5 Pillars of Estate Planning
How to Protect Your Home Equity
Legacy Planning: Private Foundation vs. Public Charity
I’m single and/or have no kids, do I need an estate plan?
How to Avoid Probate
Estate Planning Macklemore Style
Why Nominate Temporary Guardians for your Kids
Why Nominate Long Term Guardians for your Kids
What’s the difference between long term and temporary guardians
What Happens if a Child’s Guardian Dies
Who Should I Nominate as my Life Insurance Beneficiary
Washington Estate Taxes
Estate Planning Strategies: Life Support Decisions
Naming Guardians as a Single Parent
Estate Planning Attorney Definitions: