Writing a will isn’t a one size fits all process, which is why many people should use the services of a lawyer. For many people, it’s fairly simple — you just need to list out all your assets and then determine who will receive these assets after you’re gone. However, if you have an unusual circumstance or two, you’ll need experienced estate attorneys to help. Learn about some of these unique situations and how a lawyer can help throughout each one.
Do You Really Need Estate Attorneys If You’re Single And Childless?
It’s a common misconception that single or childless people don’t need help from estate attorneys. It is true that they don’t have to worry about protecting children or spouses with a will, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have one. Without a will, their assets will go to their parents. If you have a specific request or you want to leave your assets to a charity, you’ll need a will.
However, what happens if you need medical care and you’re unable to advocate for yourself? Estate attorneys can help you appoint a medical power of attorney so that you can name who is responsible for making medical decisions. Also consider a living will. This document spells out your exact wishes in case of specific medical conditions.
What Happens If Your Spouse Isn’t A Citizen?
Spouses receive special treatment when it comes to taxes after the other spouse dies. This means that they won’t have to pay federal inheritance taxes. However, if the surviving spouse isn’t an American citizen, this shield doesn’t apply. Non-citizens can receive up to $5.34 million before federal inheritance taxes are levied, however, so there is some protection for smaller estates. Money over this threshold is taxed.
There is a way for married couples to protect the non-citizen spouse, though. Each year, the citizen spouse can gift up to $145,000 a year, tax-free. This reduces the size of the estate, while legally shielding it from inheritance taxes. One last solution is to have the spouse apply for citizenship, but this process can be quite lengthy.
Estate Attorneys Can Help If You Have Children With Special Circumstances
It’s not common for parents to leave their children disproportionate amounts, but some certain circumstances can call for it. If you have a child who requires special medical treatment or has special needs that require around the clock medical care, you should consider leaving a larger amount of assets to him or her. Without a will, your assets will be divided equally, which means that your special needs child won’t be protected. It’s vital that you discuss this plan with all of your children so that everyone knows why you’re leaving them differing amounts. Without this, your children could squabble or fight after your gone, when they’re trying to grieve your loss.
Meeting with a lawyer is an important start to the estate planning process. Before you do so, however, think about any specific circumstances that should be considered. Having a good idea of how you’re going to handle these circumstances can make the entire process run more smoothly from start to finish.