The estate planning process involves the structuring of assets in the most tax effective way in order to ensure protection and preservation of assets from one generation to the next. It includes the drafting or reviewing of your will.
An estate planning lawyer otherwise known in South Africa as an estate attorney - is someone who through years of mentoring and continuous legal education and experience - understands how to assist clients by helping them get their affairs in order, in preparation for possible mental disability and eventual death.
Contrary to popular belief, estate planning does not begin and end with a last will and testament. An estate attorney will draft living trusts, develop a plan to mitigate or avoid estate taxes, and ensure that the deceased's life savings and assets are safe from creditors.
The estate planning attorney can prepare power of attorney and health care directives, therefore arranging for someone to take care of your affairs in the event that you pass away or become mentally incapacitated.
Additionally, an estate attorney helps you avoid guardianship or conservatorship issues if you need someone else to take care of your affairs.
While a general practitioner may not have the experience or knowledge to assist you with your unique financial situations, an estate planning attorney devotes his or her practice to this area of the law.
When looking for an estate planning attorney, you need to keep in mind that the attorney you choose has to be someone that you feel comfortable with, because you will be required to share intimate details of your life with them, so that your estate plan does not fall short of your expectations and needs.
Also, your estate planning attorney should be well versed in the law, otherwise your estate plan might be deemed as invalid by the court.
When looking for an estate planning attorney, keep in mind that you will be expected to pay a somewhat higher legal fee to have your estate plan created, maintained and updated, because you will be paying for the attorney's expertise accumulated over years of working with a variety of different clients and taking a multitude of continuous legal classes.
With estate planning, you get what you pay for. Attorneys with limited experience in estate planning - as well as non-attorneys - may be willing to sell you living trusts at low prices. However, when an attorney's fee seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Your estate might lose more money in the long run, due to estate taxes, or a contentious probate process dragging out after your death. These issues can lead to additional legal fees that could be avoided with a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney.
How much is it worth to know that when you die, things are going to go exactly as you intended if you have the help of an experienced estate planning attorney?
For an experienced and respected estate planning attorney, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated today, you and your loved ones will be glad that you did.
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