Ensure that your loved ones receive the inheritance they deserve and that your values are protected.
For some, the topic of estate planning can seem grim; perhaps that’s why 51% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t have an estate plan. The truth is, everyone has an estate, and that means everyone ought to have a regularly updated estate plan. While this is most important for anyone getting ready to retire, it’s still important to people of all ages because one never knows when they will become incapacitated by illness or injury, and certainly no one knows when they will die. Many people underestimate just how many areas are handled by this sort of planning, from guardians for dependents and funeral plans to the transfer of business, and as a result, those choices are left up to probate court.
Remember, the word “estate” doesn’t just refer to large homes or extensive tracts of land. It actually includes an individual’s total assets (i.e., everything of value that individual owns, from songs on iTunes to antiques and art collections) minus liabilities. Most of the time, assets will be passed down to members of a person’s family, but debts and taxes have to be taken out first. But without an estate plan, the court puts an appointee (not your family) in place to handle your assets if you’ve become incapacitated physically or mentally. Furthermore, the probate laws will be the only thing that define how your assets are divided at your death, and that may leave a surviving spouse or dependent without enough to live on or receive the care they need. While a surviving spouse would maintain custody of your children, if both parents are dead, the court will appoint one without regard to whom you might have chosen.
Quite simply, if you haven’t got the legal documentation in place, your final wishes cannot be known or adhered to. Often, it takes professional legal assistance to understand the instructions and documentation you need to put into place to satisfy the court, appease creditors, and successfully ensure your assets go to the family members or friends in the way you intend them to.
At Schottler & Associates, we can help you ensure that your intentions are clear so that when your valuables need to be divided, your values remain protected. We can help you identify your needs so that you can put the best measures in place, including:
- Living wills.
- Durable medical and financial power of attorney.
- Final will.
- Provisions for digital assets that cannot be repurchased, re-downloaded, or otherwise recreated.
- Beneficiary statement for IRAs, 401Ks, etc..
- Setting up life estates such as bonds or other investments.
- Social Security or spousal/survivor benefits.
- Guardianship and inheritance management for minors or other dependents.
- Charitable donations.
- Power of appointment.
- Funerary arrangements.
- Income, gift, and estate tax planning.
- Transfer of business ownership.
Will vs. a Trust:
What’s Best for You?
Estate planning is full of choices. This guide will help you decide whether a will or trust is right for you.
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