Have you been putting off creating your estate plan? You’re not alone. It can be intimidating or overwhelming to think about the future. But, once you complete your plan, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind it provides. This year, make it your goal to have an estate plan that fits your needs.
Not sure where to start? Check out these five common questions to learn the basics:
What is an estate plan?
Estate planning is the process of planning for the inevitable. It guides what happens when you are unable to act for yourself due to death or disability.
Who needs an estate plan?
The simple answer is everyone. Estate planning is not only for the rich and famous. Whether you are single or married, with children or without, in your twenties or enjoying your golden years, estate planning is a smart move.
Even families of relatively modest means need to decide who should help with health care and financial decisions, who should care for minor children and when children should receive their inheritance. If you don’t make the decisions, the courts will. Almost everyone needs some form of estate planning, especially those who:
- Want their estate distributed after their death according to their wishes and not statutory guidelines
- Have assets that will make them susceptible to high estate taxes
- Want planned distributions for the benefit of descendants
- Have heirs who may need responsible financial assistance after their passing
What is the difference between a will and a trust?
Wills and trusts have some similarities. They are both estate planning tools and can work together to create the most complete plan for an estate. The main differences between a will and a trust are:
- Wills become effective after death, whereas some trusts are effective upon creation
- Wills direct who receives property upon death and appoint a legal representative to oversee this process, whereas a trust can distribute property prior to death
- Trusts cover only property placed in the trust, whereas wills cover anything owned solely by the person creating the will
- Wills are public record, whereas generally a trust remains private.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both wills and trusts, so speak with your attorney about your circumstances to determine which of the options, or what combination of the two, is best for you.
Why should everyone have an estate plan?
- Preserves the value of your assets
- Reduces unnecessary taxes and expenses
- Ensures that your heirs receive what you intended them to receive
- Manages your assets for you and your heirs in the event of disability or incapacitation
- Protects your privacy
Where can I go for help?
When you are ready to create your estate plan, it’s important you pick an experienced estate planning attorney who will listen to and understand your wishes. An experienced attorney will be able to help ensure your legacy is protected.
If you are interested in learning more about estate planning and the right strategies for your unique situation, please email us or call 920-996-0000.