Each year, as the December holidays come to a close and we begin to prepare for a new annum, many of us take time to self-reflect and develop a set of resolutions. According to a survey recently conducted by Forbes Health and OnePoll, New Year’s resolutions most commonly focus on:
- Improved mental health (45%)
- Improved fitness (39%)
- Weight loss (37%)
- Improved diet (33%)
- Improved finances (30%)
While eating more nutritiously, taking up a new hobby or sport, and sticking to a budget are certainly all worthy goals, another resolution you should add to your list is writing a will. Having a will in place before you pass away allows you to decide who will take care of your children, how your possessions will be distributed, and who will be in charge of administering your estate. It also makes the probate process easier for your loved ones, since it significantly reduces the chances of them having to engage in drawn-out litigation.
Once you’ve resolved to write a will, the next step is figuring out how to do so and what you can do to make the process as painless as possible. Below, we explain why it’s important to hire an estate planning lawyer, how to choose an attorney, and what to do before your initial consultation.
Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney
Many websites offer prefabricated will forms that just need to be filled out, printed, and signed. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, trying to write your will yourself—rather than with the help of an attorney—may cost you and your loved ones considerably more time and stress down the road, since self-written wills often end up being difficult or even impossible to validate. So, while hiring an attorney may seem like the more expensive option right now, it’s generally the most cost-effective long-term strategy.
Of course, the attorney you hire to help draft your will needs to be licensed in your state. But you should also take care to select a lawyer who focuses a large portion of their practice on estate planning. General practice firms may advertise that they offer will preparation services, but if the attorneys don’t have enough experience in this specific area of the law, they may not be aware of certain nuances that could benefit your loved ones financially (for example, transferring your home into a qualified personal resident trust could potentially reduce your beneficiaries’ future tax obligations).
What to Do Before Your Initial Consultation
Once you select an estate planning attorney to help you write your will, you’ll likely need to attend an initial consultation. To ensure that the process is as painless as possible, you should take the following steps beforehand:
- Make a list of your assets (e.g., real estate, personal property, financial accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement savings accounts, business interests, and life insurance policies) and liabilities.
- Gather any supporting documentation.
- Identify potential beneficiaries, child guardians, and executors and bring along their contact information.
- Think about what you’d like to happen after you pass (e.g., whether you want to be cremated or buried and the type of service you’d like to have).
Looking for an Estate Planning Lawyer in the Tampa Bay Area?
If you need an estate planning attorney in the Tampa Bay region, you can turn to the skilled professionals at The Lyons Law Group, P.A., a respected firm that’s been serving the area since 2008. With offices in New Port Richey, FL, and Spring Hill, FL, we represent clients from across Pasco and Hernando counties, and we’d love the opportunity to help you write your will. Our team has extensive experience with estate planning and administration, and we’ll go above and beyond to make the will creation process as painless as possible. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.