Estate Planning – Wills and Trusts
While nobody wants to think about death or disability, an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Each situation is unique and Karyn Vanderwarren will work with you to create a custom estate plan addressing your specific needs. An estate plan can address a host of goals, the most common of which are explained below.
You can also visit our frequently asked questions page about estate planning.
Many people wish to avoid the probate process because they believe it to be expensive, time-consuming and do not want their family affairs to be open to the public. The probate court controls the process until the estate has been distributed and closed. If probate avoidance is one of your goals, your estate plan can help pass on your assets in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
There are also reasons that the probate process may be desirable. One reason is that creditor claims are reduced from 2 years to 6 months after proper notice is given.
Your estate may be required to pay state and federal estate taxes. An effective estate plan can implement strategies to reduce or eliminate estate taxes.
Providing for Incapacity
If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs or make your own health care decisions. Your estate plan can name a person that your trust to handle your financial and health care decisions if you are not able to do so. If you haven’t made provisions for becoming incapacitated in your estate plan, your family may be required have a court declare you legally incompetent and then the court will appoint a person to act as your guardian. This person may or may not be a person that you would have chosen yourself. The cost of guardianship proceedings can be costly, lengthy and add stress to an already difficult situation.
Providing for Minor Children
If you have young children, an estate plan can make provisions for your children if you were to pass away and can also provide for your children if both you and your spouse were to pass away. An estate plan can name a person or person to act as the guardian of your children. Your estate plan can also provide for who will handle the property and assets left to your children. The person handling the money for your children can be different than the person named as the guardian of your children. If you do not make provisions for your children, a court will determine who the guardian of your children will be and who will manage any assets left to them.
Charitable Bequests – Planned Giving
Do you want some of your assets to benefit a charitable organization or your alma mater? Your estate plan can provide for such charitable bequests in a variety of ways, either during your lifetime or at your death.
A well-crafted estate plan should provide for your loved ones in an effective and efficient manner by avoiding guardianship during your lifetime and avoiding estate taxes and unnecessary costs and delays after you have passed away. You should consult a qualified estate planning attorney to review your family and financial situation, your goals and explain the various options available to you. Once your estate plan is in place, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have provided for yourself and your family.