Proper estate planning can often avoid litigation and save your family and loved ones the stress of family feuds over your assets. A plan that you create will provide tremendous peace of mind to those who are left behind along with clear direction on how to administer your estate. The sorrow of losing a loved one is incredibly emotional and sometimes more than enough for a family to experience, says NewsGram, in the article “4 Things You Must Know About Estate Planning.” You should definitely have a plan in place to ensure that your estate is administered with as little acrimony as possible.
Estate planning focuses on planning for how an individual’s assets will be preserved, managed and distributed after their death. It also addresses how the person’s financial life, including their property, is to be managed, in the event they become incapacitated because of an accident or an illness. This is done with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.
The core of estate planning while you are living, is to protect your assets, protect your estate from having to pay unnecessary taxes and protects you and your wishes, if you are incapacitated or once you pass away. Here are four key things everyone should keep in mind while preparing their estate plan.
Age should not be a factor. Anyone who is of legal age and owns anything has an estate. An estate refers to anything of value that you own. It does not mean a $10 million mansion. A home, a car, bank accounts, retirement accounts and personal possessions make up an estate, regardless of their size or value. Once you have assets, you need an estate plan. We don’t know when we are going to die, but we can be sure that if you have no estate plan, the state will determine who receives your assets. You may want to make those decisions for yourself. That is, in part, what an estate plan does.
You need an estate planning attorney. Estate planning crosses into several different legal practice areas. Asset management, tax planning, real estate, guardianship and other areas need to be addressed by a legal professional who understands how these elements all work together. An estate planning attorney has a professional responsibility to help you document your wishes for incapacity and death.
However, they do more than that. The estate planning attorney will help you fine-tune your wishes, gain clarity on what you want to happen during life and death and translate that into the legal language that ensures that your wishes are achieved.
Planning helps avoid or minimize probate. Depending on where you live, probate can be a simple process or one that takes a long time. The estate planning attorney will help you plan to pass your assets to your spouse or the next generation to avoid going through the court process known as probate. This is a process of authenticating your will, verifying that the assets in the will are correctly named, paying off any outstanding tax balances and approving the distribution of the assets. With a good estate plan, you can make this a simple process.
An estate plan works to minimize family squabbles. Disagreements over estates, including personal possessions as well as money, routinely tears families apart. You don’t have to be wealthy or even a celebrity to have a family that is fractured over a misunderstanding or someone feeling like they were not treated fairly. This is another area where an experienced estate planning attorney can help bring you through the process of distributing assets, with an in depth discussion into how your decisions may be received by various family members.
To get started, contact an experienced estate planning attorney in your community. If you have an estate plan but haven’t reviewed it in more than four years, it’s time for an update. A number of laws have changed on the federal level that may require some changes to your estate plan. If you have had any major life events, you also need a review. Avoid litigation with estate planning and your family will thank you.
Reference: NewsGram (June 5, 2019) “4 Things You Must Know About Estate Planning.”