Tips & Advice
How much does an estate attorney charge?
There are three main ways estate attorneys can charge for services: an hourly rate, a one-time flat fee, and a percentage based on the value of the estate. There can still be variables based on the size of the estate and complexity of the job. Filings, and other fees, can also influence the costs. It’s a good idea to consult with at least one estate attorney to understand what to expect from their specific services and rates.
What is an estate attorney?
An estate attorney specializes in estate planning and laws. Generally they assist the client (or estate) in planning a will or trust, and can navigate all the laws, legal paperwork, and filings involved. They understand how to create the most financially advantageous position for the estate client as far as estate taxes. Unless you are knowledgeable in estate laws, it’s highly advised to seek some form of guidance when estate planning.
A living trust is a legal entity that is set up to provide property and asset management during the lifetime and after death (or incapacitation) of the holder of the trust. These are drawn up and documented by a lawyer and are legally binding agreements. The living trust will identify the successor upon death and any other specifics the living trustee designates. Living trusts are used while the person is alive and lay out the details to be carried out for the trustees upon their death or incapacitation.
What is a revocable living trust?
A revocable living trust (or just “living trust”) is a legal entity that is created to hold ownership of an individual’s property and assets. The person who forms the trust is called a grantor or trust maker. Often they are responsible for managing the trust, but that task can also be assigned to an attorney or someone else to manage. That person will then act as the trustee. A revocable living trust covers all aspects of the trustee: their lifetime, potential incapacitation, and post-death. After the trustee’s death, the trust is then handed over to a new trustee or liquidated.
Estate sales are used to get rid of assets, typically by selling them, and are often held after someone dies.However, not all estate sales are on behalf of the deceased. Some estate sales are done to empty a house in advance of a move, or if a house has been abandoned. Usually they are open to the public and are intended to liquidate the assets as quickly as possible. If an estate has no heirs, or if the government has seized it for legal reasons, it might be liquidated at an estate sale. There are websites that list estate sales in your area.
Estate planning is preparing and managing a person’s estate in the event of their death or incapacitation. Estate planning handles wills and/or trusts; division of assets, including sales of assets; and also makes arrangements for tax and debt payment. Estate planning is designed to make the post-death process less hectic with everything from identifying heirs and asset distribution or sales to funeral arrangements, last will and testament documentation, and naming guardians for surviving minors. It minimizes the chaos that can happen to an estate upon the death or incapacitation of the trustee or owner.
What is an estate or trust?
An estate is the totality of a person’s property and assets owned at death. A trust (in lieu of a will) is a legal agreement in which a person (or the entity creating the trust) states that one or more persons (called trustees) hold or control the grantor’s property and assets, within the terms and conditions of the agreement. Trusts are advantageous because they avoid probate courts, so the transfer of assets is faster, cheaper, and prevents squabbling over a decedent’s assets.