One of the hardest times for any family is when a major pillar of the household has fallen through demise or being incapacitated. It is even harder when the particular individual has left wealth or estates unplanned for the descendants. This leads to squabbles among family members who each feel entitled to a part of the cake and so it is crucial that proper estate planning is done using a very good lawyer.
Some of the benefits of estate planning include:
• Peace For Everyone: This is perhaps the most important aspect of estate planning, something that a good lawyer well insists on. Ensuring that you have planned your wealth when it comes to inheritance ensures that you not only have a peace of mind but that there is peace in your family. This is of more value than the wealth itself working towards maintaining relationships. Peace in the family ensures that people are able to work in contentment even after you are gone.
• Having Goals Met: One of the many options when it comes to estate planning is creating a living trust that is flexible enough to have your goals met. It is an ideal time to ensure that some of the unfinished tasks in the family are done on your part. A living trust allows you to stipulate the conditions of an inheritance and provides a clause that only when a certain task, e.g. education, is fulfilled, can a person have access to wealth from the deceased. This allows you as the person making the will to have the upper hand when it comes to safeguarding the interests of the family as well as your own. The attorney has absolute power in making sure that the obligations are met before any part of the estate in disbursed to the mentioned successors.
• Best Decision-Making: Estate planning allows you to make very good decisions concerning your property since an estate planning lawyer is involved. It is the duty of the lawyer to take the client through all the available options and finally recommend the best for execution.
• Ensuring Growth in Posterity: This is also one of the best ways to ensure that your property is used and run by capable persons. A will like the living trust allows you absolute power to put a well capable person in charge of the estate in case you are not available in any way. It also ensures that you have total control of who gets the property.
There are four main elements of estate planning, which include drawing up a will, a living will and healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, and in some cases, a trust.
A will outline your wishes for the assets that you own at your passing. It allows you to name the people to whom you wish you give these assets, and without one, your assets will immediately go to your first family member. Having a will in place will give you peace of mind knowing that your assets (including electronic) are going to whom you want them to and knowing that your financial affairs are in order. It will also mitigate the risk of an administrative mess for those left behind. Be sure to discuss your plans with your heirs and to alleviate any issues or disagreements sooner than later.
Healthcare Directive and Living Will
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) is a signed legal document in which you name a single person as your healthcare decision maker in the event that you can’t make decisions yourself. A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive, outlines your wishes regarding medical care in the event that you are incapacitated, terminally ill, or unable to communicate. This is a statement of your wishes as they relate to decisions about life support and any kind of life-sustaining medical intervention that you want or don’t want.
Financial Power of Attorney
Similar to the Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Financial Power of Attorney outlines who you want to make your financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Without this document, no one will have the authority to step in and handle bill-paying, investment decisions, and other financial matters. You don’t want these things left up to the courts; therefore it’s imperative to give that authority to the person that you select. Like the Healthcare Power of Attorney, it’ best to get this document at the same time as your will. Or, if you have any discomfort in having your parents or spouse make all financial decisions for you, immediately. Online is suitable for a basic document, but if you have specific requirements that require detailed documentation, it’s best to see an estate attorney.
A trust is a legal entity that can own your assets (while living or at death) and be controlled based on your wishes outlined in the legal document that created the entity. For example, a trust would allow you to dictate how you wanted your child to benefit from your assets throughout his or her life. You may want to stipulate that they are used in a certain way or received at a certain time. A trust is a way to protect assets from being used in a way that you would not see fit if you were in control of them. There are several advantages to having a trust; however, it is not necessary unless you are worried about the oversight or care of your assets at your passing. Ultimately, you are trusting your heirs to manage and use your assets properly should you pass away. If you have a sizeable insurance policy or estate or children, a trust is worth discussing with an attorney to determine the right parameters and language for your situation.
Things that estate planning can do for you.
• The goal is to help educate you on the benefits of estate planning and give you a better idea of why you should get your estate plan taken care of as soon as possible.
• Provide For Your Family: Without an estate plan in place, your family will get less and it will take them longer to get it. This means your loved ones will be left in limbo and might end up without enough money to pay bills and other living expenses. It’s not uncommon for families with an unexpected death to nearly fall apart due to the financial strain in the weeks, months, and years to come. Good estate planning will make sure that your family is provided for and not left to face financial ruin once you’re gone.
• Keep Your Children Out Of The Department of Child And Family Services.
• Minimize Your Expenses: Do you know where most of the money goes when people don’t have a good estate plan? Attorney’s fees and court costs. When you die without an estate plan (and without a living trust, in particular) the courts are forced to handle everything: the distribution of your property, the guardianship of your children, the dissolution of your business. This is known as “probate,” and it gets very expensive — easily exceeding $10,000 for even modest estates. That’s money your family and kids could’ve used for living expenses and other bills, but instead it’s just lining the pockets of your attorney.
• Get Property To Loved Ones Quickly: You have two options here.
Option 1, your family has to wait anywhere from 3-9 months to get anything after you die. Option 2, your family gets money they need to pay bills, to pay for your funeral, to pay for your outstanding medical bills, and to pay for anything else they need right away and without delay. Which one would you choose? Good estate planning let’s you avoid the big delays that can put a real financial strain on your family.
• Save Your Family From The Difficult Decisions: Can you imagine trying to decide when to pull the plug on your spouse who is in a coma or similar condition? Or deciding how his or her remains should be handled? Those are heart breaking decisions that no one should have to face. You can ease this burden by thinking about this kind of thing in advance and planning ahead for it. You can specify in your estate plan how you want end-of-life care to be handled and what kind of disposal arrangements you want made for your remains. And there’s no one better to make those decisions than you.
• Reduce Taxes: Every single dollar that you pay in taxes is one less dollar that your family will have for paying bills and other expenses. There are numerous tax reduction strategies that you can use to keep as much money in the hands of your family as possible. The key is to start tax planning sooner rather than later and definitely not to wait until it’s too late.
• Make Retirement Easier: You might be surprised to hear that estate planning can actually benefit you while you’re alive, not just your families after you’re gone. Healthcare in particular is an area where estate planning can benefit you enormously down the road by making sure you’re eligible for government benefits like Medicare (that you’ve been paying into most of your working life anyways, so you might as well get something back), that can significantly reduce your healthcare costs and leave more money to your loved ones.
• Plan For Incapacity: Estate planning is not just about death. It’s very common for people to become incapacitated by an accident or sudden medical episode like a stroke that leaves them unable to manage their financial affairs. If this happens to you, who will take care of paying your bills or managing your healthcare? A power of attorney designation for both financial and healthcare decisions can save your family a lot of time and money and make sure everything is handled according to your wishes.
• Support Your Favorite Cause: You might have heard that Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) decided to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in leaving the vast majority of his fortune to charity instead of his family. Even though you don’t have billions of dollars to leave to charity, you can still make a difference by supporting your favorite educational, religious, or other charitable cause. Even if it’s just a hundred dollars, that money can help others and make a difference in their lives.
• Make Sure Your Business Runs Smoothly: If you are a small business owner, then you absolutely must have an estate plan. It’s one of the most important things you can do and is really not optional. Without one, your business will likely fall apart quickly and completely if something happens to you, and that can cause incredible financial hardship on your family. You have the opportunity to provide for an orderly transition to someone else and continue the business by spelling out what happens if you become disabled or die. Don’t do a disservice to your family by leaving these kinds of ends untied.
It seems like many people devote more time to planning a vacation, which car to buy, or even where to eat dinner than they do to estate planning deciding who will inherit their assets after they’re gone. It may not be as fun to think about as booking a trip or checking out restaurant reviews, but without estate planning, you can’t choose who gets everything that you worked so hard for. Estate planning isn’t only for the rich. Without a plan in place, settling your affairs after you go could have a long-lasting and costly impact on your loved ones, even if you don’t have a pricey home, large IRA, or valuable art to pass on.
Advanced Estate Planning
Advanced estate planning—something more than a simple will or basic living trust can be critical for people with valuable, taxable estates. It goes above and beyond a basic foundation and provides options for minimizing or even eliminating estate taxes. Advanced estate planning can be used to perpetuate family values and protect assets for the benefit of future generations.
Advanced Estate Planning Can Reduce Estate Taxes
You can reduce or even eliminate estate taxes by gifting assets into an irrevocable trust for eventual transfer to your beneficiaries or even to charities. But the trust must be irrevocable. A simple revocable trust will allow your estate to avoid probate, but the Internal Revenue Service takes the position that you still own the assets you place into such a trust. You can revoke the revocable trust entity and take the assets back at any time. You remain in control of them. Not so with a more advanced irrevocable trust. Placing assets in an irrevocable trust is a permanent decision. You’re relinquishing ownership. Someone else not you must act as trustee. But if you can’t control them and you don’t legally own them at the time of your death, they don’t contribute to your taxable estate. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal.
If you own some significantly valuable assets that you know you want to transfer to a certain beneficiary, you can place them alone into an irrevocable trust and maintain control over your other property. Many states allow trusts to continue for hundreds of years or even into perpetuity so you can establish dynasty trusts for their current and future family members. You can also create a legacy in your community by setting up charitable trusts or a private foundation that will provide a self-perpetuating endowment for years to come.
Estate Planning Attorney Free Consultation
If you are here, you probably have an estate issue you need help with, call Ascent Law LLC for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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