When most people think of estate planning they imagine land or real estate, but estates are often much more than just land. When planning your estate you are essentially making a list of the things you have in your life that you want to pass on to the next generation. This can be anything from family heirlooms, valuables, jewelry, coins and firearms.
No one wants to think about writing a will, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to ensure that the things you value most can go to the people most important to you. Many incorrectly assume that they don’t have an “estate”, or that they don’t have the wealth or don’t own enough, or aren’t old enough to consider estate planning. Life, however, can be unpredictable. More often than not the lack of a will causes family strife and legal issues for relatives down the road after you are gone.
While it can seem daunting, arduous and confusing to set up a will or living trust, it doesn’t have to be. And considering the alternative, it is well worth the time and effort to make a solid and lasting plan. In many states, shares of an estate are simply parceled out equally amongst surviving relatives in the event of a death without a will. Oftentimes minors and children are made wards of the state or placed into foster care. Given these considerations, having someone help you craft a legally binding document offers peace of mind and confidence that in the future the next generation will be cared for.
A common point of confusion when starting this process is the difference between a will and a living trust. Knowing which is best for you and your family and loved ones isn’t always easy, and it helps to know a bit about the types of estate planning before going forward. Another benefit to estate planning is it give you the chance to compile a list of all your assets so you can get a better idea of your total net worth in goods, value, and property. Many people don’t know the true value of their worth, and don’t take the time to read the fine print on deeds and holdings.
A will is, at its most basic, a set of instructions to be followed following your passing. It is important to know wills are first arbitrated in what’s called probate court. Any assets listed in ;your will must first go through the probate process before being distributed to designated heirs. Essentially while who you include in your will and what are decided by you the court controls the process of distributing assets among heirs. Given the time involved (anywhere from months to two years) and the legal and court reps associated it’s wise to plan accordingly.
A living trust functions quite a bit differently. It can help you circumvent the often arbitrary process of probate courts by granting you a degree of control and freedom of the estate planning process. This option also allows you to more freedom to change as well. Unlike a will, which irrevocable at death, a trust is not final upon death and ensures financial security for your loved ones long after you’re gone. If the designated heirs are minors, then a trustee can manage their inheritance until they come of age or provide proof of higher education. Though initially more expensive, a living trust gives you much more control of the process and provides privacy compared to a will, which is often on public record.
If this all sounds confusing and expensive it doesn’t have to be. Our firm is dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and experience you need to choose the right option for your family. We know it’s a daunting prospect but we are here to do the legwork needed for your loved ones. Every life is a legacy, let us help you with your final chapter.