Most people associate probate lawyers with death issues. For instance, probate lawyers are only there to help in distributing their assets after they die. However, probate attorneys render much more. If you are looking for one here are four ways in which you never knew they could help.
Estate Planning For the Living
Probate lawyers are not a resource to seek once someone has passed on. For a fact, it is not easy to find an experienced probate lawyer. It is something one should do while still alive. A probate attorney can help you develop your last will to avoid any conflict among loved ones. Be sure also to discuss the division of assets with your heirs directly, as they may place a higher value on certain assets than others, in particular for assets with sentimental value.
Trusts are used to ensure the best timing of the transfer of your assets and are useful for minimizing estate taxes. A third party primarily holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary(s) for a designated period. This could be when an heir legally becomes an adult. Furthermore, probate lawyers can help you determine the power of attorney (and medical power of attorney), which are things that many people do not think about before they grow old.
In special instances where you find yourself in a situation where it is better to let someone make decisions on your behalf. Thus, a probate lawyer will help you designate this function to those people are so that there is no confusion and no legal complications. Regardless, a good lawyer should help you get the right people for this. This might be through a thorough examination of the parties involved or some investigation of the history of the individual.
Someone with significant assets is encouraged to go for asset protection. Ideally, asset protection shields assets from creditors, such as home equity, retirement benefits, and involvements in business partnerships. When a deceased individual owes debts, his or her assets can be seized if no asset protection is in place.
Income Tax Issues
At the time of death, a probate lawyer should help you in filing tax returns and also look exploit the possibilities of getting tax benefits. A probate attorney should help you file state and federal income tax returns, estate taxes, and any gift tax returns. He or she can also support the surviving spouse as he/she responds to changes in revenues and gross estate tax.