As you age, the importance of estate planning becomes clearer and clearer. What will you leave behind to loved ones, and how will you divide your assets in a way that ensures your legacy will be carried on the way you want?
Building a sound estate plan involves a good deal of paperwork and strategy. To navigate the complex world of state and federal laws and taxes, you’ll likely want to enlist the help of an estate planning attorney. The right estate planning lawyer can set your beneficiaries up for success when the unfortunate but inevitable time comes.
When it comes to your estate plan, proper documentation is key. One misplaced word or phrase, or even a missing signature, can throw off your entire will. This need for precision along with the myriad, complicated state laws you’ll need to consider are reason enough to hire an estate planning lawyer. Your estate plan needs to be indisputable, otherwise your assets can get tied up in probate, which could prove costly. Estate planning attorneys know the ins and outs of what documents you need to prepare, how you need to structure them, and the process of executing your plan when you’re no longer around.
The right estate planning lawyer can also help you navigate how significant life changes can impact your estate plan. Once you create your plan, you should review it every couple of years to account for changing circumstances in your life and the lives of your potential beneficiaries.
Marriages and divorces can play important roles in how you decide to allocate your assets. Perhaps you’ll want to update your plan after the birth of a new grandchild. These life events, as well as the buying and selling of real estate and family businesses, can have considerable implications in terms of how you divide your estate.
If you’re wondering when you should hire an estate planning attorney, timing largely depends on your age, overall health, the makeup of your estate, and your family situation. People with more assets to distribute tend to create their estate plans earlier than, say, someone with more straightforward financials. Regardless, it could be a good idea to start building your plan with an estate planning attorney sooner rather than later. As discussed above, you can always update it as things change.
Aside from age and level of wealth, here are some other reasons that warrant hiring an estate planning lawyer:
An estate planning attorney’s capabilities extend far beyond helping you write your will or set up a trust. The benefits outweigh the cost—hiring an estate lawyer can help reduce estate and inheritance taxes, saving your estate and its beneficiaries in the long run. By minimizing your tax burden, you can ensure there is more money to cover education, healthcare, and other expenses for your children and grandchildren.
In terms of healthcare, an estate planning attorney can also prepare medical directives and powers of attorney for yourself (if you become incapacitated) or loved ones for whom you are the primary caregiver. These preparations not only secure your financial legacy—they help make sure your assets and loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.
Some estate lawyers may also specialize in specific areas of legacy planning. For example, if you’re a small business owner, it may be beneficial to engage with an attorney who focuses on succession plans.
In all likelihood, you’re not an expert on state and federal laws—and their implications on your estate or how assets are transferred to your beneficiaries. Perhaps the best reason to hire an estate planning attorney is that they are experts on these matters, and they can help you make sense of state regulations and tax laws, especially any new legislation’s impact on your retirement and estate planning strategy.
Since estate planning attorney services are highly specialized, you’re going to get what you pay for. Types of fees and amounts may vary by state and firm, but most lawyers will charge you for an initial review meeting, typically by the hour. To anticipate this upfront cost, it’s best to request a quote prior to that first meeting. This will help you compare rates and make sure you stay within your budget.
Estate planning attorneys can charge you for their services in different ways, so be aware of whether you’re paying a fixed fee or by the hour. Generally, the more time your attorney spends working on your estate plan, the higher the cost.
You’ve worked hard throughout your life to build and maintain your wealth. To ensure that wealth has a lasting impact, it’s important to work with a trusted estate planning attorney. If you have savings and retirement accounts, insurance policies, real estate, large investments, or a small business, a solid estate plan can help you secure your assets as they pass on to the next generation.
At Mercer Advisors, an estate plan with our dedicated team of estate planning attorneys is included when you invest $1MM+ in assets with us. We have created thousands of estate plans to help clients protect their legacies .
 Mercer Advisors is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice to clients. All estate planning documentation preparation and other legal advice is provided through Advanced Services Law Group, Inc.
Mercer Advisors Inc. is the parent company of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. and is not involved with investment services. Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”) is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. The firm only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.
All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Some of the research and ratings shown in this presentation come from third parties that are not affiliated with Mercer Advisors. The information is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed or warranted by Mercer Advisors. Content, research, tools and stock or option symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or to engage in any particular investment strategy. For financial planning advice specific to your circumstances, talk to a qualified professional at Mercer Advisors.
Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Therefore, no current or prospective client should assume that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy or product made reference to directly or indirectly, will be profitable or equal to past performance levels. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance and results of your portfolio. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will either be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark.
This document may contain forward-looking statements including statements regarding our intent, belief or current expectations with respect to market conditions. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. While due care has been used in the preparation of forecast information, actual results may vary in a materially positive or negative manner. Forecasts and hypothetical examples are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside Mercer Advisors’ control.