Create an Estate Plan Today
The start of a new year is a great time to begin thinking about protecting your family by creating an estate plan. We understand that it can be very difficult to discuss what has to be done with assets and property when you pass away; however, if you have not prepared your estate it can be even more complicated and expensive for your family to navigate the probate process when you pass.
Do I need estate planning? The short answer is yes. If you care what will happen to the assets you worked your entire life to procure, then you must make preparations. No matter the size of your estate—the property and possessions you own—without estate planning, the state will decide what happens to your things after you pass.
If you pass away, and you have not done any estate planning, the legal term for your estate is intestate. There is a statutorily mandated scheme that divides your assets amongst your heirs. Having a will is one step up from intestacy. Having a will allows you to specify to whom you want certain assets to go. So, if you want your granddaughter to get your jewelry, you can specify that in a will.
The problem with both intestate and wills is that they are governed by a legal process known as probate. Probate is the process by which the courts divide your assets and give them to your heirs. Probate is expensive and can take a very long time. Meanwhile, your hard-earned assets could be going to your probate attorneys’ fees with very little left for your family.
The next level in estate planning is to set up a trust. By having a trust, your assets avoid the probate process. You transfer your assets into your trust, which typically you have complete control over during your lifetime. After you are gone, your appointed trustee takes over. The trustee will divide your assets according to your direction, thus eliminating the need for the court.
Not only does a trust save your assets for your heirs, but you can also literally reach out after death with a trust to control the actions of your heirs. For example, if you want your grandson to go to college before he inherits from your estate, you can specify that in a trust. These types of trust are called incentive trusts.
You can also make specific provisions in your trust for the care of your pets. We call these pet trusts. Without these provisions, many pets are euthanized after the death of an owner. These are just a few of the options you can set up in a trust.
Finally, it is very important to set up powers of attorneys for yourself. Powers of attorney allow your designated representative to make decisions for you in emergency situations when you can’t make decisions for yourself.
If you already have these documents, it is important to have them revised every few years so that they are current with new state and federal guidelines. You have worked too hard and achieved too much to let the state have more power than your own will. You also want to rest assured that the family members and friends you leave behind will have far less stress, grief and anxiety to deal with in addition to the loss of you. Knowing that your wishes are clear and executed in the manner you see fit allows loved ones to move on. They can spend time remembering your wonderful legacy, not quibble over what they think you wanted.
These are just a few types of estate planning tools that can be implemented by a licensed attorney to shelter your assets. You should consult a lawyer and develop a plan that helps you to keep the assets which you work so hard to procure.
If you have any further questions, go to McDonaldLawGroup.com for more detailed examples and information, or you can call the McDonald Law Group office at 702.448.4962 to set up a free consultation.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or representation. For additional information or to set an appointment to review or begin an estate plan, please contact the office for an appointment.