Planning for the end of your life can be an unpleasant thought, but a necessary action. Have you considered the division of your assets and estate upon your passing? Did you know that state law will divide your property among your heirs if you have not taken the time to plan and draft a will? I offer estate planning for anyone in need of organizing their assets and interests, no matter how large or small the estate. I have been providing sound and practical estate planning for many years. I recommend you seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in this area of law to help you draw up a plan that maximizes the transfer of your property to the next generation. I ask you to consider my firm to provide these services to you and your family.
Before meeting with me, I recommend you have a few things ready for my review:
Helpful documents include: bank statements, retirement plans, life insurance policies, recent tax returns, titles to motor vehicles and boats/trailers, legal descriptions of real estate, lists of special collections, business agreements and trusts
The next order of business for our meeting is a list of debts owed because your estate must pay all outstanding debts once you pass. Helpful documents include mortgages, car loans, and credit card statements. Your estate plan should address how debts will be paid.
A beneficiary is anyone to whom you leave property, whether a spouse, child, friend, neighbor, caregiver church or other charitable organization.
The final piece of estate planning is choosing an executor of your estate and perhaps the guardian for your children and trustee of any trusts to be created after you die. This person should be a trusted family member or friend you believe will make sure all aspects of your Will are carried out. This person will work with the attorney hired to represent your succession.
I Recommend Each Person Consider Whether The Following Types Of Documents Are Right For Your Unique Circumstances:
Why should you consider having an estate plan?
I frequently hear people say they don’t need an estate plan or even a Will because they don’t own anything expensive, and anyway, their spouse and kids will get everything. Some of that is true, but having an estate plan allows you to make sure that the people you want to have your property actually receive it. For example, most people do not understand that if you don’t have a Will, your children inherit your property, whether community or separate, not your surviving spouse. Your surviving spouse only has a right to use your share of community property but cannot sell it without the consent of your children. Your surviving spouse may have to post a bond in favor of your children. And the surviving spouse loses the right to use the community property inherited by your children upon remarriage. And, if the property you leave is your separate property rather than community property, your children own that property to the exclusion of your surviving spouse. If you have a Will, you can make the decisions about how your property is handled between your children and your surviving spouse, make donations to charities and leave special things to friends or other family members.
If you don’t have children, and your spouse dies before you or you were never married, who gets your property? It depends. Perhaps your parents, if they are still alive. Perhaps your siblings or their children. If you have a Will, you decide.
Other parts of an estate plan may include a special needs trust for children with disabilities, a living will, a general power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a statement of whether you want your body to be cremated or not, just to name a few. Not every client needs all of these; most find out that having these documents makes things easier when an unexpected illness or accident happens to you or a family member.
I also hear people say that it is expensive to go through probate. If you have a Will, the time and expense of probate is usually much less, because you can name the executor, grant that person certain rights to act without having to obtain court approval at each step, and avoid arguments over who is “entitled” to what property, whether land, cars, family heirlooms or your bank accounts.
You may have questions about what it means to be a forced heir; what is a usufruct; what is independent administration; what is the difference between separate and community property and why does it matter. Do you need a power of attorney? Do you want to make sure your body is not cremated? You may have heard about putting your property in a trust to avoid probate. All of these questions are important and the answers may be different for each person depending on your circumstances.
I can help answer your questions and draft an estate plan that fits your needs. Your estate plan, like all of your planning, is an ongoing process that should evolve with you over time. For example, you may decide to start a business, get married, have children, or you are ready to retire. Other circumstances may occur that effect your plans, including tax law changes, creditor protection matters, or loved ones divorcing or requiring assistance with special needs or substance abuse. By creating a flexible estate plan that evolves with you and is designed to protect you in the event of these kind of possible changes, you can provide the greatest amount of certainty that your goals of getting the right property to the right people in the right time and in the right ways will be accomplished, regardless of what happens around you. Let me help you decide what you need to protect your family from the unknown consequences of not having an estate plan.
This publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. It is intended solely for information and education. It must not be used as a basis for legal or tax advice, and is not intended to be used and cannot be used to avoid any penalties that may be imposed on a taxpayer.