Even Supreme Court Judges Need an Estate Planning Attorney

You should take the time to sit down with a good estate planning attorney to handle the disposition of your estate. It’s an investment of time and money, but it can be critical to ensure your loved ones are provided for after your death. Today, there are a number of websites offering do-it-yourself will documents. While comparatively low in cost, would-be buyers should be mindful of the old adage that you get what you pay for. These generally come as forms for you to fill in, and while this one-size-fits-all approach might work for you, be aware that an estate planning attorney is a highly trained specialist, and the money you spend on one today might be paid back many times over to your estate.

The Professional Career of Warren Burger

In fact, even other lawyers can benefit from the specialized knowledge of an estate planning attorney. Consider the case of Chief Justice Warren Burger. Warren Burger attended the University of Minnesota and graduated magna cum laude from St. Paul College of Law. Burger first served as an Assistant Attorney General in 1953 before being appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia, where he sat on the bench for thirteen years. In 1969, he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, a position he held until his retirement in 1986. His illustrious legal career spanned four decades, and he is widely regarded as one of the sharpest legal minds of his generation.

Tax Mistake

With his wealth of training, acumen, and experience, it is understandable that Justice Burger assumed he could draft his own will. His entire will totals less than two hundred words. Those who have ever read any of the Justice’s lengthy dissenting opinions might appreciate this rare turn of brevity, but his legatees probably didn’t. Burger’s self-authored will cost his $1.8 million estate an estimated $450,000. His mistake? He omitted a few rudimentary clauses that could have avoided the steep tax hit that was passed on to his surviving son and daughter.

The lesson is that even seasoned attorneys and judges are not necessarily experts in estate planning. It is an intricate and often abstruse realm of the law, and those who would take it on by themselves should remember Justice Burger. Some writers have given the esteemed judge the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was fully aware of the applicable laws and statutes. If this were the case, he might have taken the time to spill more ink on how the executor was to pay the taxes to avoid the harsh criticism he has been subject to by those who assume he simply did not know what he was doing. Better still, he could have created a revocable trust to keep the disposition of his estate away from the public eye altogether.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

And the next thing. And the next.

If you can talk to Schneider Steven, Attorney at Law, P.S., you can spare yourself all the next things by seeing him sooner than later. Come and see Steven for advice as long as you can plan ahead and as soon as your mind clicks to start working on your estate planning.

Schneider Steven, Attorney at Law, P.S.
621 W Mallon Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 838-4458

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