Writing a will is not a one-size-fits-all process, which is why many people should use the services of an attorney. For many people, it’s pretty simple: you just need to list all of your assets, and then determine who will receive these assets after you’re gone. However, if you have one or two unusual circumstances, you will need experienced probate attorneys to help you. Learn about some of these unique situations and how an attorney can help in each one.
Do you really need estate attorneys if you are single with no children?
It is a common misconception that single or childless people do not need the help of probate attorneys. It’s true that you don’t have to worry about protecting children or spouses with a will, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. Without a will, your assets will go to your parents. If you have a specific request or wish to leave your assets to a charity, you will need a will.
However, what if you need medical care and cannot advocate for yourself? Estate attorneys can help you designate a medical power of attorney so you can name who is responsible for making medical decisions. Also consider a living will. This document details your exact wishes in the event of specific medical conditions.
What if your spouse is not a citizen?
Spouses get special treatment when it comes to taxes after the other spouse dies. This means that they will not have to pay federal estate taxes. However, if the surviving spouse is not a US citizen, this shield does not apply. However, non-citizens can receive up to $5.34 million before federal inheritance taxes are applied, so there is some protection for smaller estates. Money above this threshold is subject to tax.
However, there is a way for married couples to protect the non-citizen spouse. Each year, the citizen spouse can donate up to $145,000 a year, tax-free. This reduces the size of the estate, while legally protecting it from inheritance taxes. A final solution is for the spouse to apply for citizenship, but this process can be quite lengthy.
Estate Lawyers Can Help If You Have Children With Special Circumstances
It is not common for parents to leave their children disproportionate amounts, but certain circumstances may require it. If you have a child who requires special medical treatment or has special needs that require 24-hour medical attention, you should consider leaving them more assets. Without a will, your assets will be divided equally, which means your child with special needs will not be protected. It is vital that you discuss this plan with all of your children so they all know why you are leaving them different amounts. Without this, your children may fight or fight after you’re gone, when they’re trying to grieve your loss.
Meeting with an attorney is an important start to the estate planning process. However, before doing so, think about the specific circumstances that need to be taken into account. Having a good idea of how you are going to handle these circumstances can make the whole process run smoothly from start to finish.