Estate Planning Attorney Utah

Are you searching for an estate planning attorney in the Logan, Utah area? Estate planning is not just for the elderly or for those with a lot of money. Estate planning is for everyone! By planning early, you’re ensuring that your family and those you care about are taken care of. Our estate planning law firm can guide you through the documents necessary for this and make the process simple. Take advantage of the estate planning services available to you from Hillyard, Anderson, & Olsen by scheduling your appointment with an estate planning lawyer today.

Our Estate Planning Attorneys

Gary N. Anderson

Gary N. Anderson

Gary N. Anderson ShareholderPractice Areas Business Law, Civil Litigation, Estate Planning, and Real EstatePractice Areas Business Law, Civil Litigation, Estate...

Andrew Lillywhite

Andrew Lillywhite

Andrew Lillywhite AttorneyPractice Areas Business Law, Estate Planning, Land Use, Real Estate, Taxation, and Water LawPractice Areas Business Law, Estate Planning,...

Drew Parkinson

Drew Parkinson

Drew Parkinson AttorneyPractice Areas Business Law, Civil Litigation, Estate Planning, Land Use, Real EstatePractice Areas Business Law, Civil Litigation, Estate...

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Estate planning attorneys are licensed attorneys who specialize in helping you prepare for the transfer of your assets and property after your death. The trust attorney is there to advise and guide you through the process of estate planning and create the legal documents that will be used to transfer your property and assets and ensure your final wishes are carried out.

Specifically, an estate planning lawyer can:

  • Help you create critical legal documents like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney that dictate how your assets and possessions should be distributed after you pass away. They tailor these documents to your unique circumstances and wishes.
  • Ensure your assets, property, and possessions will be distributed according to your preferences once you die. They can create legally binding estate plans that provide clear, lawful instructions for how you want your estate handled.
  • Provide guidance on estate and gift tax issues to help minimize taxes owed by your heirs and estate after you pass away. Their expertise navigating estate tax laws can help you optimize your estate plan to reduce the tax burdens.
  • Guide you on establishing trusts and beneficiary designations to transfer your assets privately and avoiding probate court after you pass on. This streamlines the process for your loved ones and removes a lot of the stress of settling your estate.
  • Answer any other estate planning questions you may have and educate you on laws and regulations that affect estate plans. Their specialized knowledge helps ensure your plan follows all state and federal guidelines.

In short, an estate planning attorney serves as your legal guide through the complex process of getting your end-of-life affairs in order. Their counsel gives you peace of mind knowing your final wishes will be properly executed.

What to Prepare Before Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

Before you meet with an attorney for the first time, there’s a few things you should do to get ready to make the meeting as productive as possible.

Gather Information on All Assets, Accounts, Properties and Debts

Your attorney will need a complete picture of your financial situation in order to provide the right guidance. Compile the following information to share with your attorney:

  • Bank, investment, and retirement account statements
  • Real estate deeds and property records
  • Life insurance policies
  • Wills or trusts you already have in place
  • Information on any debts or loans you may have
  • Vehicle titles and registration information

Think About Your Distribution Wishes

Think about who you want to give your property and assets to and how you want to do it. Take your time, as you want to get it right, as this will be one of the last things they’ll remember about you. Consider the following:

  • Who do you want to give specific properties to?
  • How do you want to split up any money you have?
  • Who do you want to manage or handle your will or trust?
  • Do you need to continue to provide for any special needs children or adults?
  • Who do you want to care for any minor children or dependents if you die unexpectedly?
  • Who do you want to take care of your pets or companion animals?

Discuss Your Estate Plan with Family Members

You don’t have to share every detail, but it will be helpful to discuss your plans with close family members. Get their input on issues like who should care for dependents and what assets might be best used to provide for them.

Put Together an Estate Planning Checklist

Write down the questions you want to ask your planning advisor. You should probably write down the answers too, as it can be a lot to take in. Be sure to get clarification on anything you don’t fully understand.

Being organized and prepared before meeting with your inheritance planning lawyer will help ensure you get the most out of your consultation and walk away feeling confident about your plan.

Common Estate Planning Documents

Most estate plans include the following essential legal documents:

Will
A will is a legal document that allows you to spell out your wishes for distributing your assets and property after you pass away. It names an executor to oversee carrying out your instructions and a guardian if you have minor children. Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws which may not align with your wishes.

Some key components of a will typically include:

  • Naming an executor to administer and distribute your estate
  • Naming a guardian for minor children or dependents
  • Choosing a funeral home, along with burial or cremation arrangements
  • Stating how you want your tangible personal property distributed
  • Identifying beneficiaries who will inherit your assets and property
  • Listing assets and property to be distributed
  • Setting up trust accounts if wanted
  • Naming trustees of any trusts
  • Specifying any donations or charitable contributions

Your will and trust attorney can ensure your will is customized for your unique needs and properly executed under your state’s laws.

Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a legal entity you create to own assets and property during your lifetime. The terms of the trust specify how assets are managed if you become incapacitated and how they will be distributed after your death. Unlike a will, assets held in a living trust don’t need to go through probate after you pass away which saves time and expense.

Key benefits of a living trust include:

  • Avoiding the costs and delays of probate
  • Allowing for a smooth transfer of assets to beneficiaries
  • Authorizing someone else to manage your assets if you are unable to do so due to an illness or injury
  • Maintaining complete control over the trust with the flexibility to customize and adjust it to fit your needs and preferences, including the ability to revoke or cancel it

Your probate attorney can advise if a living trust makes sense as part of your estate plan.

Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (POA) allows you to legally appoint someone you trust to handle financial and legal matters on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This could include paying bills, managing investments, filing taxes, and making real estate or banking transactions. The powers granted can be broad or limited in scope.

Without a POA, your family would likely need a conservatorship through a court proceeding to access and manage your finances which can be costly and time consuming.

Healthcare Proxy
A healthcare proxy, also called a healthcare power of attorney, enables you to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. This could include choices about treatments, medications, do-not-resuscitate orders, and other healthcare matters if you are seriously ill or injured.

Granting someone healthcare power of attorney provides them legal authority to interact with doctors and healthcare facilities on your behalf and helps ensure your wishes are carried out.

Your estate planning lawyer can provide guidance on crafting the appropriate powers of attorney and proxy documents as part of your comprehensive estate plan.

67% of American adults do not have a will.

Did You Know This?

Fact: A shocking number of Americans do not have a will. As of 2021, a survey found that approximately 67% of American adults do not have a will. This lack of preparedness can lead to unnecessary legal challenges and family disputes after one’s passing.

Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

Not everyone needs an estate planning attorney, but they are recommended for certain situations. Reasons you may want to hire an attorney include:

  • You have complex assets. If you own a business, significant real estate, investment properties, or other property an attorney can help ensure these assets are properly accounted for and distributed. Trying to handle complex assets without legal expertise can lead to problems.
  • You have specific distribution wishes. If you want assets divided up in a precise manner or given to certain individuals, an attorney can make sure your wishes are legally binding and iron out any potential conflicts.
  • You have dependents. If you have minor children, a special needs dependent, pets, or anyone else relying on you, an attorney can help appoint proper guardianship and set up trusts.
  • You want to avoid mistakes. DIY estate plans often have errors that only come to light after it’s too late. An attorney helps avoid costly mistakes upfront.
  • You want legal compliance. Laws change frequently. An attorney ensures your plan meets all current state and federal regulations.
  • You want peace of mind. Knowing your estate plan was professionally handled gives comfort that your loved ones will be taken care of seamlessly.

    While an attorney may not be essential for basic estate plans, they are highly recommended for more complex situations. The fees upfront can save your beneficiaries time, headaches, and money in the long run by avoiding errors and lawsuits over disputed distributions. An experienced lawyer gives assurance your wishes will be followed exactly as intended.

The Estate Planning Process

The estate planning process typically involves the following key steps:

  • Initial consultation – This is when you first meet with your estate planning attorney. It’s an opportunity for the attorney to learn about your assets, your family situation, and your wishes for distributing your estate. Your counselor will advise you on the estate planning options and documents that make the most sense for your needs.
  • Draft essential documents – Based on your initial consultation, the attorney will draft the core legal documents for your estate plan. This usually includes a last will and testament, one or more trusts if needed, a durable power of attorney, and healthcare directives. The lawyer will send you drafts of these documents for your review.
  • Review and revise documents – Carefully review the draft documents that were prepared for you. Follow up with any questions or suggested revisions. Your attorney will revise the documents until you are fully satisfied. This step is critical to ensure your wishes are accurately captured.
  • Sign final documents – Once you are happy with the final versions, you’ll sign the documents in the presence of your attorney. Your signature makes them legally valid and enforceable. Your attorney will make copies for you and can help you notify key individuals like your executor.
  • Fund any trusts – If your plan includes living trusts, you’ll need to formally fund them by retitling assets like bank accounts and real estate into the name of the trust. Your estate planning lawyer can guide you through this process.
  • Store documents safely – Keep the original signed documents in a secure place like a fireproof safe in your home. Inform key individuals like your executor where the documents are stored. You may also give copies to your executor and beneficiaries.

Updating Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. It’s important to review your documents periodically and make updates as needed. At minimum, you should review your estate plan every 3-5 years. However, certain events may prompt more frequent reviews and changes:

Review Your Estate Plan Every Few Years
Laws change, assets change in value, and families grow – that’s why it’s crucial to review your estate plan every now and then. Revisit all your documents every few years to ensure your plans are still in alignment with your wishes and the most current laws. Your estate planning lawyer can help identify if any changes are needed.

Change Your Estate Plan After Major Life Events
Major life events often necessitate estate plan updates. The following events typically call for a thorough review of your documents:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Illness or death of a spouse or beneficiary
  • Significant changes in assets or property owned
  • Retirement
  • Moving to another state

When Laws Change Significantly
Laws related to estate planning, taxes, property ownership, and more are constantly changing. Pay attention to new legislation and tax code changes that could impact your plan. Your estate planning lawyer should let you know about any significant legal changes that may require updating your documents.

Benefits of an Estate Plan

There are numerous benefits of having a complete estate plan. Following are several of the most important ones:

Peace of Mind
Having an estate plan gives you peace of mind knowing that your final wishes will be carried out. It designates people you trust to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated and ensures your assets are passed down as intended after your death. An estate plan also provides confidence that your loved ones will be provided for.

Carry Out Your Final Wishes
A thoughtfully-crafted estate plan allows you to spell out exactly how you want your assets distributed after your death and your other final wishes like funeral and burial details. It legally binds your executors and trustees to carry out your instructions. Without these documented wishes, disputes can occur over how to handle your remains and estate.

Provide for Loved Ones
Estate planning tools like wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations enable you to provide for your loved ones like your spouse, children, grandchildren, and charities of choice after your death. You can direct assets to go toward their living expenses, education, medical needs, and more. It avoids the stress and burden on family members of trying to provide for each other without clear instructions.

Minimize Family Disputes
When your estate plan clearly spells out how you want your assets distributed and who is responsible for what, it minimizes the likelihood of fights between family members. All parties understand your final wishes legally documented in your will or trust, reducing conflicts. An estate plan helps your family avoid going through probate court proceedings that can lead to ugly disputes.

Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common estate planning errors can help ensure your wishes are properly carried out. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to steer clear of:

Trying to DIY Your Estate Plan
Creating your own estate plan without professional legal help can lead to costly issues down the road if documents are invalid or improper. Estate laws differ by state and are complex. An attorney can ensure your plan complies with all regulations and is ironclad.

Using an Online Will Service
Online will templates seem fast and cheap but may not be valid in court if not executed precisely as required by state laws. A locally-licensed, probate attorney will create customized documents that follow your state’s laws.

Not Funding Your Trust
If you create a living trust, you must legally transfer ownership of assets like real estate, accounts, and investments into the trust for it to function as intended. Your trust attorney can help you make sure everything is properly titled.

Outdated Beneficiary Designations
Review your beneficiaries after major life events to ensure your assets will transfer to the right people. Divorce, deaths, births, or career changes all call for beneficiary adjustments.

No Coordination of Documents
Make sure your will, trust, beneficiary designations, and powers of attorney all align. If they conflict, your wishes may not be followed. Your estate planning attorney can ensure consistency across documents.

FREE Estate Planning Attorney Consultation

Our law firm understands the importance of this process and is committed to offering clarity and peace of mind. We proudly offer a free consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can guide you through the necessary steps to safeguard your estate. So, gather your questions and give us a call today at (435) 752-2610.