You need an estate plan, whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in the middle. Without one, decisions will be made for your family that you may not have wanted.
More than half of all Americans do not have a will, reports Wealth Advisor in the recent article, “The 3 Reasons Why People Do Estate Planning.” Maybe that would change, if people were better able to remove the worry and emotion and address estate planning as the necessary legal preparation to manage or distribute your assets during your life if you should become incapacitated and after your death. Minimizing gift, estate and income taxes are another reason to have an estate plan.
It’s really important to have a will, even if your total assets are minimal. While you can find a will online, you’re much safer visiting with a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney to develop a customized plan that works for you. An estate planning attorney has the in-depth knowledge and skills to make suggestions that will help determine your future asset allocations.
When considering a legacy and to whom and what to leave behind, there are three reasons why people do estate planning: probate fees and tax reduction, asset protection and control and management.
Probate Fee and Tax Reduction. When a person has more than a certain level of assets, they may have to pay state and federal estate taxes, depending upon the value of the accounts and based on where they live (some states have estate taxes, while others don’t). An experienced estate planning attorney can help explain the laws and help you to make wise decisions as to whom, where and when to designate your assets. Working with a legal professional who’s well-versed in estate planning will help you to reduce probate fees and inheritance taxes.
Asset Protection. It’s critical to protect your assets, like safeguarding your assets from spend-down (the process of reducing assets to qualify for Medicaid) in a nursing home situation. That’s a great reason to be proactive and develop an estate plan.
Control and Management. This is a big reason why many families engage in estate planning. Properly done, it eliminates worries and ensures that your final wishes regarding asset distribution are carried out.
Is there another reason to have a will? It will cost more to settle the estate and take longer, if no will is in place. Think of your estate plan as a gift you leave your family to let them know you wanted them to be taken care of after you are gone.
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