In most cases the answer to that simple question is YES! A good estate planning attorney will be able to not only help you achieve your wealth transfer goals, but also identify potential goals that may have never crossed your mind. There are hundreds of ways to plan for your estate to transfer to surviving generations. Many of those methods are outdated. Many will cause more harm than good; and all should be applied on a case-by-case basis. Here is a list of the typical considerations an estate planning attorney will need to bring up:
1) AVOID PROBATE. This saves time and money as well as maintains privacy.
2) AVOID CREDITORS. You may want to prevent your creditors, or your beneficiary’s creditors from having access to your money.
3) AVOID ESTATE AND OTHER TAXES. Taxes can have harsh consequences on estates with small businesses or illiquid assets. Furthermore, none of us like to pay taxes.
4) RETAIN CONTROL. Some estate planning tools will cause you to lose control of the asset. The benefit of sacrificing control is that you can avoid probate, creditors, and taxes. But what happens when you want to change the beneficiary?
5) RETAIN FLEXIBILITY. It is important to use planning tools that allow you to adapt to changing laws and other changes in your own life.
6) RETAIN ECONOMIC BENEFIT. Some estate planning tools will transfer the entire economic benefit of the property while you are still alive. This means you better know how to leave enough resources for your own support.
These are the six most common goals a good estate planning attorney in Salt Lake City will address. It will be your job as the client to prioritize the importance of each goal. For example, minimizing estate taxes is usually not an important consideration. Currently there is no estate tax on the first $5,120,000. This number changes constantly. Next year it is scheduled to drop down to $1,000,000 unless congress takes further action. Avoiding creditors usually has a high priority in estate planning. Even a very solvent individual may find his/her wealth transferred into the pocket of a judgment creditor (maybe he/she hurt someone in a car accident).
So, will that estate plan you downloaded from legalzoom achieve these goals in the most efficient manner? Not likely. A simple Will can be downloaded from the internet as well. But even the smallest problem, like a signature in the wrong spot or the failure to use a word with specific legal meaning, can make the Will about as valuable as a blank sheet of paper in your printer. A good estate planning attorney in Salt Lake City is well worth the money spent.