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What Does an Estate Lawyer Do?

People spend their entire lives acquiring an “estate.” An estate can be large or small. It consists of savings, checking, and any investment accounts a person may have, as well as all property they own – including moveable and moveable property.

Most people have “movable property.” Moveable property is anything a person owns- a mobile home, furniture, paintings, a car, a coin collection, their clothing and so on. Those people who own their homes rather than rent possess “Immovable property.” Immoveable or “real” property refers to land and to permanent structures (homes, barns, etc.) built on that land.

After working so hard to develop an estate (even if you weren’t really aware that that’s what you were doing!) it would be an absolute tragedy to see some or all of it pass out of your family’s hands once you pass away.

An estate lawyer can help you prevent that from happening.

An estate lawyer performs many functions to help clients protect their assets and ensure that they end up where the client wants them to go.

Drafting a will

One of the main functions an estate lawyer performs is to help a client draft his or her will. A will is imperative in this day and age. If you don’t put down in writing where you want every single bit of your estate to go- from moveable property to immoveable property – a court in your state will decide it for you… and charge your heirs a great deal of money (it could run into the thousands of dollars) for the privilege. It will also take considerable more time than if you leave a will.

Creating a trust

An alternative to a will is to create a trust. With a trust, all of your assets are placed into an account, and you then appoint a “trustee” – a person whom you trust – who will disburse the funds when appropriate. A trust is important if there are young children involved. The funds they are to inherit can be disbursed when they reach a certain age, rather than when they are too young to properly handle the money. An estate lawyer, if so commissioned, can also act as a “protector” of the trust if desired.

Advanced Health Care Directives

More familiarly known as a “Living Will,” this documents ensures that your wishes will be adhered to – regarding your own health – should you suffer an accident that leaves you incapacitated, or if you develop a disease such as Alzheimer’s for example, which will affect your ability to make decisions for yourself about resuscitation, for example.

Probate

When a person passes away, the estate must be divided as he or she wished (if a will or trust was created) or how the court wishes (if there was no will or trust). This is called probate. Probate is a legal process that has to go through the Court (and of course, fees have to be paid to the Court).

An Estate Lawyer Gives You Peace of Mind

53% of Americans have a will. That is an incredibly low percentage. Many young people do not bother with wills, as they did not bother with health insurance. However, accidents happen every day and it is imperative that even young people plan for the future and every eventuality.