You’d be surprised at how many people you know don’t have an estate plan in place. Statistics tell us that the majority of Americans don’t have a plan in place. For some, it’s because they think that only wealthy people or those with complex tax issues require estate planning. But that’s not true; if you want to make things simpler for your family after your death, you need an estate plan.
The Sabetha (KS) Herald’s recent article, “Understanding the estate planning process,” [no longer available from source] says that both of these ideas are wrong because your level of wealth and the ultimate tax consequences of your estate take a back seat to caring for your family and other heirs.
A revocable trust allows you to control the distribution of your assets and possessions. But if you don’t ensure that your assets are aligned with the trust—titled in the name of the trust—it may not matter what the trust document says. Most are unaware that the title on assets is what truly determines what happens to that asset after your death. That is why the alignment of all assets with your estate plan is so crucial. Any estate planning attorney with an ongoing maintenance program to keep estate plans up-to-date can help you with this and assist you by reviewing your financial position today and analyzing what your family’s needs will likely be in the future.
An experienced estate planning lawyer will help you plan for a family member with special needs or who requires medical attention, prepare for the cost of a college education when your children reach that age and determine how estate taxes may impact your assets as they are currently held. Disclosing all relevant information to your estate planning attorney will help you develop an estate plan that will properly provide for your family’s needs.
In order to conduct a complete and thorough estate analysis, your attorney will ask for all materials involving your current or future income, property ownership, insurance and any legal arrangements already in place, including prenuptial agreements or divorce decrees, among other things. In addition, you’ll need to inform him or her about all of your retirement benefits and plans: Social Security, IRAs, pensions and profit-sharing plans, investments, certificates of deposit, real estate, life insurance policies you own (as well as policies you have on others), beneficiaries, other trust agreements and your will.
In addition to these documents, bring a list of your debts (both current and anticipated)—including home mortgage, loans, real estate liens, taxes, credit card debt, consumer debt and estimates of other expenses of which you are aware. With all this information, you and your estate planning attorney can work together to create an estate plan that will give you peace of mind and take care of your family.
At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we know that estate planning is a complex issue and one that most are unfamiliar with. That’s why we regularly hold educational events for our clients and work to answer any questions they may have. For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: The Sabetha (KS) Herald (August 9, 2016) “Understanding the estate planning process”