Estate planning does not begin and end with a last will and testament. Wills, powers of attorney, health care directives, living wills, and sometimes trusts are important tools in estate planning. Possibly the most important thing to consider in estate planning is that there is no one-size fits all model. Each person has different family dynamics, financial goals, and assets. It is important to recognize that you do not need an attorney to write a will, but a will must meet certain legal requirements. In the process of drafting a will, an estate planning attorney will ask questions about important people in your life, your assets, your estate planning goals that could suggest you need to draft your estate planing documents in a different way than you may consider if you drafted a will or power of attorney without an attorney helping you.
An attorney who specializes in estate planning and elder law can also draft living trusts, which are sometimes (though not always) helpful and develop a plan to mitigate or avoid taxes to ensure your life's savings and assets are safe from your beneficiaries' creditors after your death.
He or she can prepare powers of attorney and health care directives, arranging for someone to take care of your affairs in the event you should ever become mentally incapacitated. He can help you avoid guardianship or conservatorship issues if you need someone else to look after your affairs.
What to Look For In An Estate Planning Attorney
A general practitioner may not have the experience and specialized knowledge to assist you with your unique family and financial situations. Look for someone who devotes his practice to this area of the law. You should feel very comfortable sharing intimate details of your life and your concerns with him so your estate plan doesn't fall short of your expectations and needs. Your estate planning attorney should be well versed in and up to date on all Alabama law involving estate planning and elder law. Otherwise, your estate plan may ultimately be deemed invalid by the court or not take advantage of important tax savings now available.
Contact Lindsey M. Eastwood
2001 Park Place, Suite 257
Birmingham, AL 35203