People typically assume that a probate lawyer is only available to help in distributing their assets after they die. However, probate lawyers provide much more than this. If you are looking for a probate attorney in Bremerton, WA, here are 4 ways in which you never knew they could help.
Estate Planning For the Living
Probate lawyers are not a resource to seek once someone is deceased, as many people assume. In fact, it takes time to find an experienced, quality probate lawyer, and it is something one should do while still living. A probate lawyer can help you develop your last will and testament to avoid any conflict among loved ones. Be sure to also discuss the division of assets with your heirs directly, as they may place higher value on certain assets than others, especially assets that may have sentimental value.
Trust Planning and Power of Attorney
Trusts are used to ensure the best timing of the transfer of your assets, and are useful for minimizing estate taxes. A third party essentially holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary(s) until the time that you designate, such as the recipient’s 18th birthday. Furthermore, probate lawyers can help you determine power of attorney (and medical power of attorney), which are things that many people do not think about before they grow old. We may find ourselves in a situation where it is better for our trusted loved ones to make decisions on our behalf, and so it is important to designate who these specific people are so that there is no confusion and no legal complications. Probate lawyers ask these tough questions when you may not be thinking about them.
Someone with considerable assets is highly encouraged to seek asset protection. Asset protection essentially 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. The only exception is assets without a legal title, which cannot in essence be touched by outside parties.
Income Tax Issues
From the beginning of the tax year until death, a probate lawyer can file one’s 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 income tax and/or gross estate tax.