The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated. You plan ahead for every stage of life financially, and everyone knows that retirement planning is a must. At the same time, far too many people fail to address legacy issues.
There are a number of important things that you should take into consideration when you decide it is time to devise an estate plan, and some of them may not be readily apparent to the average layperson. In this blog post, we will look at five different things that you should know about.
The Probate Process
You could assume that you can simply draw up a will to get assets into the hands of your loved ones, and after you pass away, they will receive their inheritances in a quick and efficient manner. In fact, if you go this route, the will would be admitted to probate. The process would take close to a year at best, and the heirs would have to wait it out.
An alternative to a last will as the centerpiece of your estate plan would be a living trust. You do not lose control of assets in this type of trust, because you can act as the trustee, and you can even revoke the trust if you choose to do so.
After you die, the successor trustee that you name in the trust document would be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes outside of probate.
You can also include spendthrift protections if you use a living trust if you have concerns about the money management capabilities of an heir or heirs.
If you are in possession of considerable wealth, even if it is in the form of real estate, you could be exposed to the federal estate tax. You should inventory the value of your estate and discuss tax efficiency strategies with a licensed estate planning attorney if your estate is exposed to taxation.
These days, blended families are quite common. There can be some challenges involved when you want to provide for children from a previous marriage as you simultaneously leave resources for your spouse to draw from.
You should discuss all of your options with a professional so that you can make the right choices.
Many elders become unable to communicate sound decisions at some point in time. Every well constructed estate plan should include an incapacity planning component. You can execute durable powers of attorney naming agents to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
Schedule a Free Consultation
We have provided some things to think about in this brief blog post. If you would like to have an in-depth discussion with a legal professional, send us a message through this page to schedule a no obligation consultation: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Lawyers.