When clients come to see a Savannah estate planning lawyer, they generally have multiple goals in mind. Interestingly, they don’t always realize this fact, thinking that they “just” need to put together a will that stipulates who gets what after they have passed away. While this is obviously a very important part of what estate planning lawyers do, it’s not a comprehensive view.
Yes, estate planning lawyers assist in the creation of wills, but let’s take a deeper look at what clients are really looking for. In the vast majority of cases, clients are concerned about three things:
The taxes involved in estate planning are complex, and they don’t just come into play once an individual has passed. It’s possible that the estate tax (often called a “death tax”) is a pressing concern, but the lawyer will also be able to advise on issues such as income tax and gift taxes. Both of these taxes can have a huge impact on how much of the estate will actually end up going toward the death tax. For example, giving assets away during one’s lifetime can invoke a gift tax, but it can lessen the value of the final estate, meaning that the eventual death tax will require a smaller payout.
Long-Term Care/ Medicaid
Every Savannah estate planning lawyer knows the horror stories of individuals losing their entire life savings and more as a result of long-term care. Additionally, qualifying for Medicaid can require a pretty limited income and/or net worth for the individual in question. By working with an estate planning lawyer, the individual can develop strategies in advance for dealing with these potential difficulties later. From gifting assets to setting up trusts to purchasing long-term care insurance, there are many ways to reduce the impact of these types of expenses.
Many clients are worried that their family members will somehow interfere with their estate plans. Whether they fear someone will contest their wishes or that one or more family members will behave unscrupulously, estate planning lawyers in Savannah are keenly aware that their concerns have merit. Again, there are strategies that the lawyer will recommend to lessen the potential for family members to create problems during the individual’s lifetime, as well as after his or her death. Certain provisions can be added to a trust, for example, that strongly discourage beneficiaries from bringing lawsuits against the estate.
Each of these concerns brings with it a variety of options and considerations, and a knowledgeable Savannah estate planning lawyer will be able to work with a client to understand the choices available. Also important is the fact that everyone has their own concerns. One client may be more worried about family interference while another is anxious about taxes. It’s the estate planning lawyer’s job to uncover what a client’s goals and concerns are and to pursue a strategy that considers both.