Top Opelika, AL Estate Planning Lawyers Near You

Estate Planning Lawyers | Opelika Office

3120 Frederick Road, Suite B, PO Drawer 2268, Opelika, AL 36803

Opelika Estate Planning Information

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Lead Counsel independently verifies Estate Planning attorneys in Opelika and checks their standing with Alabama bar associations.

Our Verification Process and Criteria
  • Ample Experience Attorneys must meet stringent qualifications and prove they practice in the area of law they’re verified in.
  • Good Standing Be in good standing with their bar associations and maintain a clean disciplinary record.
  • Annual Review Submit to an annual review to retain their Lead Counsel Verified status.
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Wills and Trusts

Wills and Trusts are powerful estate planning documents that allow you to name beneficiaries and provide instructions on how your assets should be distributed to them after you pass away or become incapacitated. Wills are validated in probate court (also known as a surrogate’s court) and can contain burial instructions, funeral arrangements, and more. Trusts can allow you to avoid probate court altogether by naming trustees to distribute your estate in place of a court or judge.

Powers of Attorney (POAs)

Power of attorney documents allow you to name third parties to tend to your affairs during your lifetime. For example, a financial power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual or company to manage your bank accounts, stock brokerage accounts, and other finances. A power of attorney can be limited or durable depending on whether you would like to specify how long it lasts and to what extent, or whether you intend for it to be permanent and unconditional. It can also allow a third-party designee to manage your real estate and other tangible and intangible properties.

Living Wills and Healthcare/Medical Directives

Living Wills and/or Healthcare Directives relate to medical treatment during your lifetime, especially during incapacitation. For example, you can name a loved one to make life-and-death decisions for you, including whether to pull to plug or to accept medical treatment or surgery from a doctor or hospital on your behalf. These types of estate planning documents, like powers of attorney, are only effective during your lifetime.

How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?

An estate planning attorney may provide a free consultation, and subsequent work may be performed on a flat fee or hourly basis. The total cost of these services will depend on the complexity of your estate and the extent of documents that you need to have prepared. For instance, if you don’t own much property and only intend to create a simple will to dispose of small personal assets and provide for funeral instructions, your cost may not exceed a few hundred dollars. A more complex will combined with a trust, can run into thousands of dollars, depending on your needs. Other documents, such as powers of attorney or medical directives, can be prepared on a flat-fee basis. However, hourly fees can vary depending on an attorney’s years of experience.

How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

Because state law and individual circumstances are unique, hiring an estate planning attorney is advised especially if you own substantial assets and want to properly plan your future (and your family’s future) accordingly. An estate planning lawyer can help you decide which kinds of documents are right for you; a law firm can also guide you toward the best legal strategies to use to minimize your estate taxes and provide the most for your future beneficiaries.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process through which you make known your wishes for what you want to happen to your assets upon your death (commonly done through a last will and testament). Estate planning also involves stating your wishes for your health care through power of attorney declarations and advanced directives. In short, it allows you to maintain control of your health care and estate.

How much does estate planning cost?

There are do-it-yourself documents available online that allow you to create your own will, advance directive, and power of attorney declaration. Going this route will be cheaper than using an attorney in the present. However, it is good to work on an estate plan with your attorney to ensure you are going through the process correctly and addressing details you haven’t thought of. If you are worried about cost, you can discuss that with attorneys at your initial consultations as you shop around.

What estate planning documents do you need?

Every estate plan should include a last will and testament or establish a trust. This will allow you to state how you wish to distribute your assets to beneficiaries upon your death. A power of attorney declaration will name someone you trust to handle your health care and/or financial decisions if you are ever unable to. An advanced directive (also known as a living will) will state your wishes for any care you want to receive if you are unable to make those decisions at the time. This is useful when it comes to end-of-life care or if you ever need life-saving care because of an accident or illness.

Who needs estate planning?

Everyone needs estate planning, and if you are 18, it is never too early to start thinking about your plan! While we all want to live a long, full life, accidents and illnesses happen. And having a plan in place will go a long way in protecting your wishes.

Top Questions to Ask When Hiring an Attorney

  • How many years have you been practicing law? How long have you practiced law in the local area?
  • How many cases similar to mine have you handled in the past?
  • What is the likely outcome for my case?

In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.

How to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation

Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.

Tips on Hiring an Experienced Lawyer with Estate Planning Cases

The more experienced a lawyer is in legal practice, the more likely he/she will be able to bring about a successful resolution to your issue. Since experience matters, lawyers who’ve been practicing law for many years (with a successful track record) tend to be in high demand. You should look for information about a lawyer’s experience and ask questions during the initial meeting. It’s a very good idea to ask the lawyer how many years he/she has been practicing law and the expected outcome of your case.

Common legal terms explained

Pro se – This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.

Statute – Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.

Subject matter jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.

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