We all know this famous saying; nothing can be done to change the situation. So, you'd best be prepared for both certainties.
The first thing you want to do is ease the burden on your family. Preparing a will and crafting an estate plan are the two best things you can do to help your loved ones.
Everyone should have a will, a durable power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. These three documents are the very foundation of preparation for the inevitable. Transfer on death deeds or life estate deeds are useful to transfer real estate without the need for probate. There are other estate planning solutions such as revocable trusts, business succession instruments, guardianships, and Special Needs Trusts for the disabled to protect your hard earned assets.
Putting these decisions off doesn't change that universal truth that we are mortals. It can however, increase the stress and the tax burden your loved ones will face.
Dying without a will ensures that the law will dictate how to handle your assets and not you! The local probate court will collect taxes on your hard-earned property, leaving less for your heirs. Large estates could be subject to substantial estate taxes. Perhaps the worst thing of all is, regardless of the size of your estate, is the reality that many families are torn apart forever by the fighting and bad feelings that develop when there is no legal will.
Basic wills, power of attorney and advance medical directives are an inexpensive way for you protect the ones you love. For clients with substantial assets, a business, farmland, timber, wish to preserve family property for generations, or more complicated situations such as a blended family or a special needs child, I will guide you in structuring an estate plan that not only fits your personal needs, but also reduces the tax burden your loved ones will face.
Above all, I strive to preserve the family harmony that will best honor your memory. That's the best kind of estate planning there is.
Q1: How expensive is a simple will, advance medical directive, and power of attorney?
Basic estate plans for single persons start at $1,000 and for married couples they start at $1,500, but the angst it saves your family is priceless.
Q2: When is a trust warranted?
Many situations call for the extra protection a trust affords, such as the need to provide for minor or special needs children, blended families, or estates greater than $1 million. They help to avoid the expense and complexities of the probate process, insulate assets from creditors and provide financial security in the event of incapacity. Trusts can also protect family assets for generations to come and restrict the ownership of your property to your descendants and not the families into which they marry. Irrevocable trusts can also protect assets from Medicaid if set up and funded at least five years before Medicaid eligibility commences.
Q3: Can you assist with probate and trust administration?
Whether a loved one dies with or without a will, I can help guide the estate's administrator, executor or trustee through the myriad rules probate and trust administration entail.
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