What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Help With?

Jun 06

Estate planning can be a particularly technical and detailed process, but a diligent and experienced attorney can help. Additionally, beyond those technical details, the process of working with an estate planning attorney can help your mental state as well.

Having a solid estate plan that you can feel confident in will give you peace of mind that when you pass, your family will be able to grieve and manage the distribution of your estate with much less issue than if you had no plan at all. An estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the major components of putting together an estate plan. At Davis Toft, we have the estate planning experience you need to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone.

Executor and Beneficiaries

One of the first things to decide is who will be your executor. This person will be responsible for distributing your assets according to your wishes. Those receiving the assets are the beneficiaries of the estate.

Wills and Trusts

Putting together a will, a trust, or both is a central component of estate planning. These are both tools for describing how your estate will be managed. A will is a lower-cost option and is easier to alter if you wish to change how your assets are divided. However, a will must go through probate to be executed. Your estate also becomes public record, and it could leave more room for conflict among your beneficiaries.

There are several options for trusts, with one of the most common being a living trust. A trust is more expensive in the initial process, but it can end up saving your family money in the long run. A trust can be kept private and outside of the probate process. A trust may also help reduce the potential taxation your beneficiaries will face. It can protect your assets from creditors as well.

Power of Attorney

Another important part of estate planning is designating power of attorney. This is when someone is given the power to act on your behalf, particularly if you are incapacitated. The power of attorney may be limited to specific issues — for instance, finance or healthcare. The power of attorney may be general, giving the person a broad range of ways they can act on your behalf. These are usually determined by state law. You may also opt for a limited power of attorney, which defines how the designated individual may act on your behalf.


Depending on how your estate is set up, your assets are subject to varying degrees of taxation, meaning your beneficiaries will receive less. An estate planning attorney can help you structure your estate plan in ways that can reduce the potential taxation upon your estate.

Healthcare Decisions

One part of estate planning that is not considered as regularly is what happens in the time before your death. An estate planner can help you with setting up a living will, which gives instructions on what kind of medical care you would like to receive in the event of certain conditions that might leave you otherwise unable to express your wishes.

Guardianship of Minors

For those with children, an essential part of estate planning is determining who is going to care for your children if you are unable. An estate planner can help you prepare the legal designation of guardianship for your children.


Q: What Is the Difference Between a Will and Estate Planning?

A: Estate planning is a much more extensive process than a will. A will describes the wishes of the deceased and how the property and assets that are left behind may be distributed. Estate planning may include creating a will or a trust, but it also involves issues like determining who has financial power of attorney, planning for taxes, and even setting someone up with medical power of attorney for end-of-life medical issues.

Q: What Are the Components of Estate Planning?

A: Estate planning can involve a variety of different issues, but some of the more common ones include:

  • Determining who will be the executor on your behalf
  • Designating your beneficiaries
  • Preparing a will or a living trust
  • Choosing who will have the power of attorney
  • Advance directive healthcare decisions
  • Guardianship of minors

Q: Why Should You Have an Estate Plan?

A: The passing of a loved one is a hard time for families. Far too often, rather than it being a time when families grow through the grieving process, it can become a time of division and conflict around the distribution of the deceased’s possessions. The last thing most people want is for their family to be divided by their passing. A thorough estate plan, though, can help to minimize any potential conflict and potentially even avoid the risk of probate court altogether. You should have an estate plan for your family’s sake and for your own peace of mind.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

A: A will can be a cheaper option on the front end, but it must go through probate court. A trust, on the other hand, may cost a little more to initially set up. A well-crafted trust, though, can often better protect your assets and potentially even avoid probate court altogether. Many comprehensive estate plans include both a will and a trust.

Get Started on Your Estate Plan Today

It’s seldom too early to get started with estate planning. Knowing how your assets will be handled when you are gone and how your family will be taken care of can relieve a tremendous mental burden. The relief that comes with understanding and setting up your estate plan can often come as a surprise to many, as they weren’t even aware of how the matter weighed on their minds. At Davis Toft, we have plenty of experience in this area, and we can give you a clear picture of what to expect and the important components of the process. If you’re ready to begin that process, contact us today.