Hire A Proficient Estate Protection Trust Attorney
Estate planning is essential, especially in turbulent times when you can’t control and can’t predict what might happen tomorrow. By having an estate plan, you can stop unwanted disputes over your assets and protect your loved ones from debts and taxes. Most importantly, you can avoid probate court – the government’s court that steps in if you die without a trust, and takes control of all your assets.
Of course, you should do your research before consulting an estate protection trust attorney so you know what questions to ask. So if you’re interested in creating an estate plan of your own, here are some tips on what to watch out for, and how to get it done.
1. Make A Will
You hear about this in movies. You read about it in books. A will is an official document that details how you want to distribute your estate after you pass. The most important figure in a will, aside from yourself, is a person called the executor.
The executor is the person or people responsible for upholding your will. He, she, or they will have the responsibility and power to distribute your assets and pay off your debts. They are also responsible for finding guardianship for any minor children you may leave behind and they will have the power to manage your assets until your children are of age.
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed to your bloodline in accordance with the laws of intestacy of the city or state you reside in. You do not get to choose how your debts are paid – the government will decide how much and which assets they want to take from you. Not to mention, your relatives and family will have to fight for the guardianship of your children if your spouse is also deceased. This can result in your children ending up in foster care, and the assets you want to bequeath to them to remain in limbo.
The executor can prevent most of those tragedies, and you can choose a friend, relative, or a professional such as a lawyer or banker, to be your executor. However, keep in mind that having a will does not protect you from probate court. Even if you die with a will, your assets will still fall beneath the control of the probate court and your executor and relatives must hire an attorney to negotiate with the government over the control of your assets and the guardianship of your children
2. Create a Trust
So what protects you from probate court? That would be a trust. Having the trust is the only way you can avoid your assets ending up in probate court at all. However, should everyone have a trust? The answer is no – a trust is recommended only if you have a lot of property. For instance, if you own a house and several vehicles, then you would want a trust. If you do not own a house and only own vehicles and bank accounts, then a will should suffice.
But what is a trust? A trust is best explained as an entity. Think of it as a secure bank vault that you can put all of your assets into – houses, businesses, personal property, vehicles. The government cannot access this bank vault, and the only people that can are the Trustees – the managers of your metaphorical bank vault. A trust can also help you avoid unnecessary property taxes that the government will attempt to place on your estate after you pass.
3. Name All Your Heirs Or Beneficiaries
Whether you have a will, a trust, or both, it’s important to name who gets your assets after you pass. If you have a will, you need to understand that inheritance isn’t as simple as passing down all of your assets to one or a few people. That’s because there are several types of properties that cannot be directly passed down. For example, if you own a house jointly with your spouse, you cannot pass the house down to your children – it goes to your spouse. This is due to the right of survivorship, a type of ownership that allows the spouse to inherit the entire house when you pass.
When you open up a brokerage account or payable-on-death savings, the securities and cash in those accounts will directly go to the beneficiary whom you have listed in the brokerage house or bank forms, not the people you’ve listed in your will. Furthermore, the 401(K), life insurance policies, and single retirement accounts will be provided to those heirs listed in the documents, also not the people in your will.
When working with an estate law attorney for your estate planning, you have to show them the beneficiary forms, which you can fill in beforehand. If the attorney finds any problems in the form, he/she will call you to get it fixed. That way, unwanted issues or problems can be easily avoided.
4. Create A Letter For Your Heirs
On certain occasions, the things that you wish to tell your heirs or survivors are not written in the will. This includes funeral arrangements and the distribution of specific items that hold sentimental value. To cover all your bases, you can write a separate letter to be added to your will. The letter should have your signature and it is best to give it to a lawyer, a trusted relative, or a trusted friend to hold.
5. Wrapping Up
Preparing an estate plan is crucial for every individual who has good assets and wealth. With the help of an estate plan, all your properties and wealth will be distributed evenly among the beneficiaries and to a charitable cause. If you are interested in making an estate plan, please follow the steps mentioned in this article and consult the matter with your lawyer.