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Estate Planning Attorneys

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An estate planning attorney is a lawyer who can best help prepare your estate for distribution to your heirs once you die. Your attorney will help you write your last will and testament, so that your property is divided as you see fit. Also, your attorney will be able to help you determine how best to manage your assets to avoid taxes and fees on your estate.

Your Last Will and Testament
By writing a will, you can be sure that your estate is handled exactly as you wish after your death. A will is legally binding, and nobody can violate the terms of an official will. But having a will isn't just about control--it is a measure of security, and makes your family's lives easier having your desires clearly in writing.

If you die without a will, your estate will be divided by the courts. Often, this process leads to tension between family members who are confused about the wishes of the deceased, and it can take months for an estate to make it through probate. Court costs alone can eat up a significant portion of your estate's value, so there's good reason to have a will.

Death and Taxes
If your estate is valued at over $1.5 million, it will be subject to a significant estate tax when you die. Although it is currently being lowered, the standard estate tax is 50 percent of the value of the estate! What's more, you can't get around it by passing on your estate while you're alive, because the gift tax applies to any gift worth more than $11,000.

Your estate planning attorney can help you set up your assets to avoid taxation. This can include setting up a trust, or even setting up investments in corporations that will be passed on to your heirs. These tax shelters are legal, and can effectively save your heirs from hefty taxes on their inheritance.

Other Services of Estate Planners
Estate planning includes more than just financial advice. When you're writing your will, it's often a good idea to also write a "living will." This set of medical directives makes sure that your wishes are regarded when it comes to end-of-life care. Making sure these wishes are clear can save you and your family a lot of suffering, and a lot of money.

In addition, most estate planning attorneys do more than plan estates. They can help you sell or buy a home, get married or divorced, and help you set up businesses. When you find a lawyer that you trust, be sure to do all your legal business through him, because having a good lawyer is a great relationship to have.

The Future of Estate Planning
You may have heard some commotion about abolishing the estate tax. Currently, the estate tax is being phased out gradually until 2010, after which it will be promptly reinstated. The US Congress is expected to take up heated debate over the future of the tax, but so long as it's a question, make sure that your estate is prepared for any event.

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