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Do you know what will happen to your estate upon your death, or who can legally make decisions for you, both financially and for your health care, when you die or become incapacitated? If not, it’s time to discuss implementing an estate plan.
Proper estate planning will allow for the orderly transfer of property to your heirs, charities, and other beneficiaries after your death and for the proper management of your property and health care in the event that you become incapacitated while you are alive. A simple estate plan should include a will, a durable power of attorney for property management and an advance health care directive.
More advanced estate plans may include the use of trusts and may consider tax issues and nursing home planning. With proper estate planning, the probate of your estate can be minimized or potentially eliminated.
In simple terms, probate is nothing more than the process a legal court takes to conclude all your legal and financial matters after your death. Essentially, probate is the process by which a court distributes your estate according to your estate plan. If you’ve prepared a will, the court will distribute according to that. Sounds simple, right?
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that easy. But that’s because most people have thought about executing a will but for whatever reason haven’t written one. If you do not have a written will, then the court and an appointed administrator will decide how your estate will be distributed. And don’t assume for a second that your spouse or your children will automatically get everything or an equal share, especially in second marriage situations.
You will avoid the cost, delays, and trouble of probate.
You will maximize your tax shelter from federal estate tax and possibly leave your entire estate tax-free to your beneficiaries.
You will provide for the distribution, over time, of your property to beneficiaries who are currently too young to receive a lump sum or are unable to manage their entire inheritance.
In the event that you become incapacitated, or for individuals who are incompetent, the use of durable powers of attorney for property management and the advance health care directive stating one's medical wishes allow for the orderly continuation of your personal affairs and health care according to your specific instructions.
Minimize future costs of nursing home care out of your estate.
For those with larger estates or whose personal situations are more involved, complex estate planning techniques are applied to accomplish your goals. Such goals may include: providing for children from a prior marriage after your death; increasing the amount of property that can be protected by the tax shelter from estate taxes; asset protection planning, using capital gains tax avoidance techniques when selling your property; and providing for family members with special needs.
For specific questions about the estate planning implications of wills and trusts, or to answer your questions or concerns about your existing estate plan, call the legal professionals at Spangenberg Law Offices. Don’t delay, call us today!