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ESTATE PLANNING

Let us Help You With Your Estate Plan

Planning for your family’s future is a noble and worthy undertaking, though sometimes it can feel complicated and overwhelming.  You want to get everything just right to ensure the well-being of family members for generations to come.  You may also have charitable causes that are important to you and are looking for ways to remember them in your estate planning.

A skilled Mobile estate attorney can assist you in these efforts by doing the difficult legal work while you concentrate on individual decisions about the legacy you want to leave.  A legacy is an important and highly personal matter, and the estate planning attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana will walk beside you as you craft yours.  We respect our clients’ desires to leave a legacy that is unique to them and their families.  To discuss ways that we can help with estate planning in Mobile, call us at (251) 444-7000.

An experienced Mobile Estate Attorney is Key

Estate planning can be complex and intricate.  A client wants to leave assets to future generations and charities while also making best use of the tax laws that are available.  It’s important to hire a Mobile estate attorney who is highly experienced and possesses up-to-the-moment knowledge about current estate planning tools.  Because the decisions made during estate planning can last for decades, you want to make sure every legal document conveys your wishes exactly.

This is when legal experience matters.  Estate planning is not a cookie-cutter process, and standardized forms or inexperienced attorneys can leave you at a loss.  You need more than an attorney’s time; you need his or her expertise and knowledge.  More than ever, this is a place where years of legal experience can make the difference between creating an estate plan that articulates precisely what you want or a plan that is wide open to interpretation after you’re gone.

Foley, Alabama Lawyers
The highly skilled Mobile estate lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana take the time to sit down with clients, deeply understand their wishes and concerns, and explore legal options that can create the legacy they are looking for.

A Mobile Estate Lawyer Puts You and Your Family First.

Planning ahead is crucial for developing a comprehensive inheritance process, and a Mobile estate lawyer can help you and your family think through some of the most important elements.  Plans should include every area of your life, according to estate planning tips from U.S. News & World Report, which offers 10 essential elements to consider:

  • Guardianship plan for minor children. It’s important to think about who you would like to raise your children if both parents die unexpectedly.  While not a pleasant thought, it is important to make this clear in an estate plan.  Also, life insurance payouts and money set aside for their benefit can be directed in the plan.
  • Will. A will determines how your assets (those that are outside a trust and don’t have beneficiaries) will be distributed. These could include houses, vehicles, checking and savings accounts at a bank, and other possessions.
  • Medical power of attorney. This names someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot make decisions for yourself.
  • Living will. This is also called an advance directive. It provides guidance to the person making medical decisions regarding what you do and don’t want in your healthcare.  For example, a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) could be included here.
  • Trust. A living trust serves two purposes — it allows you to pass on assets without going through the probate process, and it allows a trusted person to manage your affairs if you are not able to.
  • Financial power of attorney. This allows someone you choose in advance to oversee your financial affairs. You can limit it to certain areas or make it all-encompassing.
  • Tax planning.  Federal and state estate taxes can make it necessary for wealthy people to create strategies to minimize their tax exposure.
  • Beneficiaries. Many financial accounts — like retirement, 401(k), life insurance, brokerage accounts and pensions — require you to name beneficiaries.  This is worth the time it takes to think through and plan for who will receive these financial benefits.
  • How you hold assets. Some joint assets pass automatically to a surviving spouse or partner upon death. Is that what you want?  It’s worth reviewing how titles are held to homes, material possessions and financial accounts.
  • Executor. This is the person or professional manager you trust to carry out your wishes, which are articulated in a will.  Have you selected this person or management firm? 

A Mobile estate attorney can walk you through each of these elements and create a plan that is specific, comprehensive and captures your wishes in great detail.  To learn more about how we can help, call a Mobile estate lawyer at (251) 444-7000.  We will put our expertise to work for you.

An Estate Lawyer in Mobile Can Help You Avoid Common Mistakes.

It’s important to think of an estate plan as a living, breathing document that can evolve over time.  Life can change as the years pass, and it’s important to update a plan so that it continues to reflect your most current wishes.  A good estate lawyer in Mobile will look out for your interests and guide you so that you don’t make blunders. Here are 7 very common mistakes that people make when creating an estate plan. 

  • Not fully understanding or reading through the estate plan
  • Not updating asset ownerships
  • Not coordinating retirement plans and trusts
  • Failure to fund revocable trusts
  • Not updating beneficiary information
  • Not updating powers of attorney
  • Not updating the plan itself

It’s important to review an estate plan annually to keep it accurate and updated.  A skilled Mobile estate lawyer can help you do this and even remind you when it’s time to review the plan each year.

The Value Of a Mobile Estate Planning Lawyer

Yes, a Mobile estate planning lawyer can cost a reasonable fee, but a good one can also keep you from making mistakes that cost you and your dependents thousands of dollars.  The value of a good estate lawyer is not only their deep knowledge of estate planning tools but also their knowledge of pitfalls to watch out for.  All too often, the good intentions of a successful person wanting to pass on gifts wind up creating legal quagmires.  That’s why good communication with your Mobile estate lawyer is essential, as is taking the time to fully understand your goals and needs.  At Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, we are always ready to take your phone call, discuss important issues, and explain your legal options.  After all, an estate plan is meant to last a lifetime, and you can’t give good planning short shrift.

An Estate Administration Lawyer in Mobile Can Also Oversee Your Estate and Trusts.

Often the person you choose to administer your trust is a family member or friend.  But sometimes, especially for complicated or large estates, a client will want to name an attorney as the administer of their estate.  Sometimes family members do not want the responsibility of administering an estate.  In other cases, making one family member the administrator can create jealousy or tension among other family members.  All of this can be avoided by naming a Mobile estate lawyer as the executor.  Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana has served successfully as the executor of many of our clients’ estates, and we are able to do so efficiently and with little disruption to business and family relationships.  If you would like to discuss hiring a Mobile estate lawyer to administer your estate or trust, call us at (251) 444-7000.

Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?

Some might say that two big reasons to create an estate plan are to avoid probate and reduce taxes.  These can be compelling reasons.  Even if you are not wealthy, a good estate plan can ensure the orderly distribution of your assets after you are gone.  People need estate plans for other reasons, too, especially if they have children.  Clients want to make sure that young children are provided for, and sometimes they want to make sure older children do not make poor financial choices, are guarded from outside influences, avoid creditor problems, and are protected from divorcing spouses.  With good estate planning, all of these outcomes can be minimized, if not avoided entirely.

Estate plans are also beneficial to most people because they can prevent stress and headaches for surviving family members.  Most people know a neighbor, friend or work colleague who has a horror story about a family member’s lack of planning and the mess that can ensue.  An estate can be stuck in probate, family members can bicker, and a death can result in countless hours and many dollars devoted to sorting things out if an estate plan is not in place.  A client often thinks of an estate plan as one more way to take care of their immediate family.

What Can Happen if I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?

It’s important to remember that not having an estate plan can create problems.  Rather than ignoring these problems, it’s better to face them head on.  Here are common problems families face when a person doesn’t create an estate plan:

  • Paying too much in inheritance taxes
  • Getting mired down in the public probate process
  • Creating arguments and hurt feelings among surviving family members
  • Allowing money to be wasted by irresponsible family members and their spouses
  • Not adequately providing for minor children
  • Enabling outside influences to direct funds in ways that would not please the deceased
  • Delaying the distribution of assets and funds.

These are just a few of the hardships you can run into without an estate plan.  There are probably many more.  For the time it takes to sit down with a Mobile estate attorney, you can avoid most of these pitfalls.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Enduring the death of a loved one is already hard enough without all the uncertainty and time-consuming effort required to go through the probate process.  In some ways, creating an estate plan is giving a huge gift to your loved ones.  By doing so, you eliminate the worry and burden that is created by probate.

Contact a Mobile Estate Lawyer Today

Sometimes people don’t like thinking about end-of-life issues and, therefore, put off creating a will or estate plan.  But this is not a wise thing to do.  In fact, creating an estate plan can actually give a person great peace of mind.  Knowing that you don’t have to grapple with inheritance issues enables you to protect your family’s well-being and enjoy life.  Planning is always a good idea and can free you from worry.  If you’d like to talk to a Mobile estate lawyer and learn more about how to create a plan, call the experienced professionals at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana at (251) 444-7000.  We would be glad to explain your options and discuss your next steps.

GETTING HELP

Our estate planning and litigation attorneys are some of the most active litigation practitioners in Alabama. Our lawyers have had enormous success in both probate and circuit courts. To schedule a free consultation with our experienced Alabama estate planning attorneys, please contact us.

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