New Year Resolutions
January 6, 2014 4 Comments
Whats on your list? Losing weight? Quit smoking? Get a new job? Hitting the gym more often? Creating a budget? More time with the family? How about getting your estate plan in order?
I didn’t think so.
Estate planning is one of those things that no-one likes to think about either because you think you don’t need it (I am too young for that). Or you think it’s too complicated or expensive (I can’t afford doing this now, maybe later). Maybe I can counter these objections with some simple information.
Estate planning is not the same as financial planning. Part of creating a good financial plan is getting your estate plan completed but you can do one without the other.
If you own a home, own vehicles, have life insurance, have retirement plans, or have a bank account, you have an estate that should go to your family or loved ones after your death. It doesn’t matter if it’s worth $20,000 or $1,000,000. You should control who it goes to, when it goes to them and how it goes to them.
If you do nothing then anything left in your name at the time of your death will have to be conveyed by court order in a probate court. You won’t get to decide who gets what, because the state plan says it goes to your heirs. (So your brother who has “divorced” you and the family, gets the same amount as you’re sister who takes care of your kids).
A will does not protect you before you die. It doesn’t help you if you are disabled. A will doesn’t have any legal affect until someone files it with the probate court AFTER your death. Probate fees will be taken from your estate before your family gets it. Probate is costly. (In most cases more expensive than paying an attorney to do your estate plan) The process is lengthy and you have to hire an attorney. Also, its public, which means anyone can see how much you were worth and who you cut out. It’s best to avoid it.
You can title everything as joint tenants, or put beneficiary designations or transfer on death designations on your property. Most married couples already do this. If you’re single and add someone to title you’ve now made a gift of that asset to your joint tenant. It works as long as they don’t decide to cash in “their share” (which means they can empty out the bank account whenever they want). Beneficiary designations work too as long as all the beneficiaries agree. Partition suits cost a lot more than an estate plan.
A revocable trust is not complicated and not as expensive as going through probate. You create it, you manage it, if you’re disabled you are taken care of without a court proceeding. After you’re deceased your assets go to who you want, when you want, the way you want. And it’s private, quick and costs much less than probate.
I understand that this may be confusing and hard to talk about, which is why I meet with you at no cost to discuss your situation and help you decide what plan is best. Who knows what the future holds. Death is not exclusive to those over 80. Let me help you make this be the year to put this one behind you.
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