Estate planning is not just about money
Estate planning is the responsible way of planning for and protecting you and your family, both during life, and after death.While nobody wants to think about death, incapacity, or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also help your loved ones minimize the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away, become incapacitated, or disabled. Additionally, proper estate planning eliminates the need for a court to get involved upon your incapacity or death.There are many benefits to proper estate planning, some of which are highlighted below or found at Estate Planning Source, LLC.
Providing for Incapacity
One of the most important and compelling reasons for proper estate planning is to plan for incapacity. If you become incapacitated (due to dementia, a stroke, Alzheimer’s or any other debilitating illness), you are legally prohibited from managing your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that a spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that in order for another person to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to be appointed Conservator and declare you legally incompetent. This process is often lengthy, costly and stressful. Moreover, nearly everything about you becomes public record. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they will have to come back to the court every year and show how they are spending and investing each and every penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust so that they will have the authority to withdraw money from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell stocks, refinance your home etc. This can be accomplished through proper planning. In addition to planning for your financial well-being should you become incapacitated, you should establish a plan for your medical care. You can designate someone you trust – for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is expensive, time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled. It is not unusual for the probate courts to freeze assets for weeks or even months while trying to determine the proper disposition of the estate. Your surviving spouse may be forced to apply to the probate court for needed cash to pay current living expenses. You can imagine how stressful this process would be. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
Providing for Minor Children
Those with minor children have extra special considerations when doing proper estate planning. Because minor children do not have the legal ability to hold or manage money, special planning must be done to allow the appointment of a person or persons you would like to manage your assets, for the benefit of any minor child. Without proper planning, it is likely any funds passing to a minor child will be frozen until a guardian is appointed by the court, and this may not be the person you would have chosen to care for and raise your minor children. Other issues to consider here is whether you would like your beneficiaries to receive your assets directly, or whether you prefer to have the assets placed in trust and distributed based a number of factors which you designate, such as age, a child’s needs, educational accomplishments, etc. All too often, children receive substantial assets before they are mature enough to handle them properly, often times with devastating results.In the event of a taxable estate, there are many effective strategies that can be implemented to reduce or eliminate death taxes, but you must start the planning process early in order to implement many of these plans.
Start Planning Today!
Contact us or give us call for a free consultation at 781-340-1555.We work with an attorney and the experienced document processing of the Estate Planning Source, LLC to ensure that you are working with those knowledgeable and experienced in probate, estate planning and tax matters.As your planner, we will discuss with you your wishes, the nature, title and value of your assets and liabilities, as well as your goals for the use of your property during your lifetime and following death. Following your consultation, your planner and attorney will be able to provide you with an estimate of legal and other expenses involved with the drafting and implementation of your customized estate plan.
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