About 68% of Americans don’t have a will. There are a lot of unintended consequences of dying without a will, and your family will have to face a number of challenges while dealing with grief.

You’ve heard the stories of famous people dying without a will. You may not be famous or have a lot to leave behind, but you’ll need to get your affairs in order.

What do you need to get ahead in your estate planning? Do you need a probate attorney or an estate attorney?

Read to learn the difference between the two and when you need to hire them.

Estate Planning Basics

What is an estate plan? This is where you and your attorney develop a plan for the what-ifs that can happen in life.

For example, what if you become incapacitated? You can have power of attorney assigned as part of your estate plan. This will enable someone else in your family or someone you trust to make important decisions regarding your health and finances.

An estate plan also has a will, which is the legal document that directs where your assets should go when you die.

If you have a lot of assets, you and your attorney can create an estate plan to lower the tax rate on the transfer of wealth. They may create a trust or use another tool to lower the tax burden on your family.

If you don’t have a lot of assets, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a will or an estate plan. You still have belongings like a car and computer.

You should develop your estate plan now and update it every time there’s a life change, such as a marriage or divorce.

Probate Law

Estate planning is done before you die. Probate is how your estate is handled after you die. When you die, your will goes before a judge to ensure that it’s valid.

This is called probate court, or probate. If you had a will written with the help of an attorney, this should be an easy process.

If you died without a will, then there will be a process where the court distributes your assets that fall under probate law. These assets range from business to trusts.

There are some things that don’t fall under probate law like life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

Do you need an estate attorney or a probate attorney? Fortunately, many attorneys handle both probate and estate planning.

It will make it easier on your family because they won’t have to find a probate attorney to sort out your affairs after you die.

Probate Attorney vs. Estate Planning Attorney

How can you tell the difference between a probate attorney and an estate planning attorney? Think of an estate planning attorney for taking care of your estate plan before you die. A probate attorney is a person to contact to shepherd your will through probate court after you die.

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