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Get Started on Estate Planning

Get Started on Estate Planning – Like the Nike slogan – “Just do it”

Estate planning matters can be difficult to discuss, though planning is important to ensure protection of our families. Estate planning is how we take care of our families and future generations. So, let’s just get started.

Questions

You are likely to have many questions at the outset of the estate planning process when meeting with an attorney. You might wonder:

  • What is the cost of a will or trust?
  • What is the process to obtain a will or trust?
  • How long does the process take?
  • Do I need a will or a trust?
Will Factors

The answers to many of these questions depend on many factors, to include:

  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you or any heirs have disabilities?
  • Do you own out of state property?
  • What is your net worth?
  • Is your estate taxable

The more complex the will the higher the cost. A standard will with distribution to a spouse can be relatively simple and inexpensive. However, some situations require special drafting. For example, if someone would like to make a provision for children to ensure that a child’s spouse will not have access to a child’s inheritance, then special drafting may be required. In cases like these, a will may have to coordinate with other documents, such as a prenuptial agreement. This is often the case with business succession arrangements as well. A business operating agreement should act in concert with a will. They each serve different purposes, however it is important to ensure that the documents are consistent with each other.

Estate Transfer Tax

One important factor is that the 2019 estate transfer tax exemption is 11.4 million dollars, which means that most people do not have to engage in sophisticated tax planning. This has not always been the case as in prior years, the transfer limit was often much lower. This high exemption is subject to change and is not guaranteed to continue to increase.

Decisions to Make

There are many important decisions to be made when creating a will and ancillary documents regarding distribution, beneficiaries, and fiduciary appointments. Fiduciaries act according to your wishes in the conduct of your estate. Areas commonly addressed in a will and ancillary documents are:

  • Method of asset distribution
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Extension of inheritance to grandchildren
  • Charitable giving
  • Appointment of a Personal Representative
  • Appointment of a Guardian
  • Appointment of a Trustee
  • Appointment of a Financial Power of Attorney Agent
  • Appointment of a Medical Power of Attorney Agent

A personal representative is responsible for taking your will to probate and ensuring that distribution occurs according to your wishes. A guardian is a person who will care for your children if there is no surviving spouse. A trustee will distribute funds according to your wishes. Medical and financial agents will make medical and financial decisions in the event that you are unable to do so.

The important thing is to just get started. You can consult with an estate planning attorney to find out what plan and documents will best suit your individual situation. I can be reached at 303-534-1958.

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