Estate planning is all about looking after the loved ones you leave behind. But without hiring an estate attorney, many people end up making costly mistakes that cause even more anguish after their death.
It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing a will or assigning a power of attorney all by yourself. Both have to be legally binding and comply with the laws in your state. Without having a trustworthy estate planning attorney, your family and assets could suffer.
Who is an Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning attorneys, also referred to as estate law attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed law professionals with a thorough understanding of the state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed after your death.
Benefits of an Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning attorneys often charge a flat fee to help you craft binding legal documents such as wills and durable power of attorney, but they can also be employed on an hourly basis to help you maintain your estate, act on your behalf to handle disputes when called upon, and ensure that your will is carried out according to plan when required.
In the event that a beneficiary (or even an individual not designated as a beneficiary) announces that he or she plans to contest the will and sue the estate of a deceased family member or loved one that you also stand to benefit from, it might be in your best interest to consult an estate planning attorney immediately. Such lawsuits can quickly drain the estate’s funds and leave all beneficiaries a little worse for the wear. In addition to educating you about the probate process, an estate planning attorney can assist you with the following tasks
- Creating a will
- Designating your beneficiaries
- Establishing durable power of attorney and medical durable power of attorney
- Finding ways to reduce and avoid estate tax when possible
- Finding ways to avoid the probate court process
- Setting up any trusts you might need to protect your assets, both for your own benefit during your lifetime in the event of incapacity, and for the benefit of your beneficiaries after your death.
Costly mistakes which can occur without Estate Planning Attorney
The housing market is booming and houses are selling fast these days! Buying a home is a strategic process, so buyers need to be ready to act quickly to secure their dream home. But real estate buyers and sellers should not be in such a hurry that they lose sight of important details in the process. One way to avoid costly mistakes along the way is to hire an experienced real estate attorney. Here are some issues that can turn into major problems without proper attention.
Sales Contract is Not Complete
The real estate sales contract is the agreement between the buyer and seller that finalizes the sale. Once accepted by both parties, it becomes legally binding and neither party can simply change their mind. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that all information in the contract is accurate and acceptable. Your attorney can help negotiate the offer, verify contingencies for the sale of another property or acceptable home inspection, confirm that important items such as appliances, window treatments or light fixtures will be left in the home, as well as check for any factual errors throughout the document.
Disclosure Statement Issues
Sellers of residential properties must make sure that a disclosure statement is completed accurately and honestly. This important mandatory document discloses the seller’s knowledge of the condition of the property. This can include defects in the foundation, roof, plumbing or electrical systems, as well as any known infestations or building code violations. Based on the information on the document, a buyer may want to renegotiate a selling price or even decline an offer completely. Additionally, a seller may be held legally liable for future issues that were not disclosed on the document, so a legal review can be very important.
Final Walk-Through Issues
Shortly before a real estate closing, buyers should always complete a final walk-through of the property. The purpose is to ensure that the property is still in its acceptable, agreed-upon condition. This would be the time to verify that all items listed in the sales contract are present in the house, that all appliances and electrical and heating systems are still working, and that there has been no additional damage to the property. Your attorney can get involved and help negotiate compensation if any of the contract contingencies are not met or if there is new property damage to repair.
The Title is Not Clear
The title gives a person legal ownership of a property. Before the property can be transferred to a new owner, a title search must be completed to verify current legal ownership and any liens that are attached to the property. Problems can arise if any liens, such as an old mortgage, judgment or delinquent taxes, still appear on the title. Likewise, a divorce, trust or probate issue can create questions as to the legal ownership status of the property. All of these title issues must be cleared up before the property can be legally transferred, so having an experienced attorney review this document is an important part of ensuring a smooth closing process.
Incorrect Closing Documents
One surefire way for a closing to get disrupted is due to errors on the closing documents. There are a lot of documents that need to be signed in a real estate closing, and each one needs to be inspected to ensure accuracy. An error in an address, incorrect spelling of a name, inaccurate loan amount, or even missing pages can all cause serious delays in the closing or may lead to legal issues if not corrected at all. Having your attorney review the entire document package prior to the closing can help ensure that any errors are found and corrected before it is too late.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of an estate Attorney and how to avoid further mistakes of estate planning, please contact any of our estate planning attorneys today.