- Avoiding Probate. We have all heard that this is something to avoid, but what are the problems with probate? The main ones are the unnecessary costs, and the potential time delays that can tie up assets. The good news is with good planning it can be easily avoided.
- Determining Beneficiaries. Without an estate plan, your assets will often not be distributed in the manner that you may have intended. Assets that have a named beneficiary, such as life insurance policies and IRA’s, will go directly to that person. But assets that don’t carry a beneficiary designation will then be determined by the courts as to who receives what and how much.
- Conservatorship. An issue that can really cause headaches, unnecessary attorney fees, and legal wrangling is conservatorship. This is the issue of controlling assets when one becomes incapacitated and unable to make their own financial decisions. A few simple planning steps can easily avoid this legal nightmare.
- Estate Taxes. Although the exemption amount has been increases to over 5 million, there are still many people who exceed this especially with significant real state holdings. Also some states also have an estate tax that may start at a lower amount. With the use of Trusts, this tax can be completely eliminated.
- Medical Directives. Unfortunately there are many cases where people remained on life support against their family’s wishes because there wasn’t a legal document in place. Another issue that can become a problem is if unexpected medical treatment is necessary and again nothing is in writing to allow decisions to be made. Everyone should have this taken care of ahead of time.
This is simply an overview pointing out the key reasons why everyone should have an estate plan. We highly encourage all of our clients to seek legal advice and take every precaution to make sure your plan is complete.