As we head into 2017, many of us will start making our New Year’s resolutions. Statistics tell us that the most popular resolutions center on health and fitness. What never makes the list? Estate planning resolutions. As many Americans don’t have an estate plan, it probably should make the list!
Those who pass away without doing any estate planning die “intestate,” but there’s still a plan: your assets and possessions will pass to relatives according to state laws. Those who do some planning and have a will can still expect their heirs to go through the probate process, a long, expensive process that’s also a matter of public record. Most people prefer a more private process and opt to create a trust document.
However, many estate plans still don’t work. Even with a trust document in hand, if proper alignment of assets with the trust instructions doesn’t happen before the trustmaker’s death, assets will still go through probate. In some cases, even those who invested the necessary time to ensure all assets were titled in the name of the trust can still miss opportunities to spare heirs significant estate tax bills. The law is always changing and if estate plans are not updated, you can miss tax saving opportunities, among others.
You should also think about planning for disability. More and more people are predicted to need long term care of some sort and some will inevitably become unable to manage their own affairs. Without planning ahead, it becomes much more difficult for loved ones to pick up the thread of your affairs. Even if you’ve worked with an attorney to create a Power of Attorney document, if a financial institution hasn’t reviewed and accepted it—and sometimes solely because it isn’t on their own form—it may be rejected, complicating and further delaying access to important accounts and information.
If you want to ensure your family is cared for in the event of your death or disability, talk to an estate planning attorney. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we come alongside you to help not only create documents outlining your wishes, but to align assets with your estate plan. We then work with you and your financial institutions to change the name on your assets to align with your plan, verifying with the institutions that everything is done correctly.
But your life, your family situation and your assets will all change over time. So we work with you on an ongoing basis, staying in communication to ensure that any changes in assets are dealt with and any changes in your life are addressed. That way, your family and loved ones are cared for the way you intend after your passing.
For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!