Estate planning is not just for wealthy people, wills and trusts are something everyone should have established. An estate typically includes a residence and personal possessions as well as any bank accounts, life insurance policies and investments. A good estate plan is generally more crucial for individuals with modest means because there are fewer assets to distribute, and it is even more crucial to protect them. Regardless of the overall value of an estate, an estate plan should be developed to determine how those assets would be divided when the owner dies. Because no one can predict when an illness or death will occur, people should not wait until they retire.
The estate plan provides the instructions that ensure the owner’s wishes are carried out. The plan governs the details of who receives which assets and at what time. A secondary goal is to achieve these goals while paying the minimum amount in taxes, legal fees, and court costs. If someone dies without an estate plan, the court will decide how the individual’s assets will be divided according to the law. It’s important each individual carries out their wishes with wills and trusts in place. The manner in which this takes place may not be in accordance with the deceased’s final wishes. A crucial financial tool, an estate plan provides indispensable guidance.
Sometimes called a last will and testament, a will is a written document that directs the distribution of assets upon the death of the owner as well as any final wishes. The document names the executor of the estate. This person will be responsible for overseeing any remaining financial obligations of the deceased individuals. Along with how debts and taxes should be paid, a will also provides information on who should care for any dependents, minor children or pets. It can serve as the backdrop to a living trust. Wills often have to go through probate.
In addition to proving that the deceased person’s will is valid, probating a will is a legal process that identifies and appraises the estate’s assets. It also involves ensuring that all outstanding debts, funeral expenses and taxes are paid before any remaining property is distributed to the named beneficiaries. There is usually a waiting period to allow creditors to file claims against the estate. Washington State has simplified procedures in place that make it easier to transfer assets. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid this legal process, which helps save time and money. Proper estate planning is required.
A trust is a document that outlines the rules an individual wants followed for the property held by the trust for the benefit of others. A trust is commonly used to avoid probate, reduce estate taxes and protect property. Different types of trust can be established for various estate planning objectives. Certain rules must be followed in order for the trust to remain valid. Types of trusts include:
Individuals wishing to form a trust for a specific reason should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.
Individuals who want the best estate planning possible should take proper care when handling their affairs. This requires the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. There are four reasons to engage the services of a qualified attorney. These include:
Receive specific advice – Every estate plan is different. Each individual has his or her own goals and requires an experienced lawyer to create a customized plan to achieve the desired results. Proctor Law has experienced attorneys that can help with wills and trusts.
A will is not enough – While a will is an important document, it may not be the best estate planning option to accomplish a person’s goals.
Update an estate plan – Birth, adoption and death as well as marriage and divorce are life events that necessitate an individual to update an estate plan. An experienced attorney can help guide the process as each event has its own set of unique circumstances.
Avoid costly mistakes – It is essential that estate planning documents be created in accordance with all applicable laws and statutes. In addition to wasting time, the failure to properly create an estate plan may cause the court to invalidate the document. The increased fees created by dying intestate, or without a will, can be costly.
By hiring an experienced estate planning attorney, clients can obtain a solid legal plan that fulfills their wishes.