Legal Guide

What an Estate Lawyer Does And How He Does It

To protect your assets and plan out what to do with it now and what happens to it after your death, you talk with an estate lawyer. Estate lawyers specialize in handling assets before and after a person’s death. They make plans that follow the current laws in your state and make sure  those plans can actually be followed through with.

The basic steps an estate lawyer will walk you through includes establishing a health care proxy, a living will, power of attorney, and help you make your last will.  You will make a will and provisions will be placed in your living trust to make sure your family members are protected. Your estate lawyer will look through your will and make sure the provisions and measures make sure that your property and assets are distributed how you want while still following the rule of law in your state.

Here are short explanations the aforementioned terms:

  • Health care proxy

This is somebody you appoint to make medical decisions in your behalf. This includes making decisions on providing or avoiding life sustaining measures. Without a health care proxy, doctors will do everything in their power to keep a person alive. This can go against your intentions and cost your family a lot of money as well as delay your intended plans with your assets.

  • Living will

This is where you leave a statement saying whether or not to include ‘do not resuscitate’ orders if there is no reasonable expectation for you to retain your mental faculties.

  • Power of attorney

This lets you appoint somebody you trust to handle your finances and assets. There is general durable power of attorney for your estate that assigns somebody as your ‘attorney-in-fact’ effective immediately and there is springing power of attorney. Springing power of makes somebody your ‘attorney-in-fact’ in the event of you being physically or mentally incapacitated.

If a person does not appoint someone, the courts will go through a long process to appoint a conservator to handle this role. This is a long process and a stranger may be appointed.

  • Last will

This is where you state how you want your assets distributed and to whom. People who die without a will leave their assets to be distributed by the state. Even with a will prepared, if it doesn’t follow your state’s laws and statutes, the process can take long and even change in certain parts. You need to discuss all your assets with your estate lawyer to make sure everything is covered. All your beneficiaries, insurance policies, financial accounts, joint accounts, etc.

What happens to a person’s assets before and after they die is unfamiliar territory to most people. Even with a basic plan laid out, it can go wrong in lots of ways. Qualified estate lawyers specialize in exactly this and have worked through it with other families. This gives them experience and insight in what can go wrong and how to make it go right.

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