Everyone needs an estate plan, not just the super-wealthy. Estate planning is planning for the orderly distribution of your property to your heirs. But it encompasses much more. Estate planning has five major purposes, one or more of which will surely apply to you. With a good estate plan you can:
1. Designate how your assets are to be distributed among beneficiaries after you die.
2. Avoid or minimize the delays and expense of probate.
3. Appoint a guardian for your minor children and a person to manage the children’s assets.
4. Provide for the possibility that you will become incapacitated and unable to manage your finances or make medical and other decisions for yourself.
5. Eliminate or minimize taxes.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DIE WITHOUT AN ESTATE PLAN
If you die without an estate plan, the state will provide a plan for you. Every state has a law that specifies who gets your property if you die without a will or other documents for passing it. The law is a “one size fits all” plan that attempts to predict how most people would like their property distributed. Typically, your property would go partly to your spouse with the rest to your children in equal shares. If you don’t have a spouse or children, your property would go to other relatives such as parents or siblings.
This plan may not be suitable in many instances. For example, you may want to:
• Leave unequal shares to your children because they have different needs or you have already provided more help to one during your life.
• Ensure that property left to a spouse will go to your children from a different marriage on the spouse’s death, rather than to the spouse’s children or relatives.
• Disinherit a child.
• Leave your estate to a life partner to whom you are not married.
• Leave a gift to a grandchild, a more distant relative, or friend.
• Leave a contribution to charity.
THE DANGERS OF DRAFTING YOUR OWN ESTATE PLAN
The prevalence of do-it-yourself options for drafting estate planning documents leads many people to wonder whether they can prepare their own estate plans. For all but the simplest estates, writing your own estate plan is not a good idea. These do-it-yourself forms, whether found in books or online, are generated by estate planning computer software that is designed to cover only the most basic of estate planning needs. Even books and programs about estate planning recommend that you seek the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney.
It can be easy to put off estate planning until it is too late. No one likes to think about final goodbyes. You may feel comforted to know that your estate plan will be a lasting gift to your loved ones. It will ensure your assets pass to those you want to benefit with minimum cost and delay. It can protect you if you are incapacitated, ease the emotional burdens on your family, and give you great peace of mind.
Call Us Today for Assistance with Your Business Needs
At Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A., we offer comprehensive legal services so that we can protected your assets and minimize your costs when you are going through the sale of your business. We are here to help you navigate the complex legal problems that often during the sale of a business in the most efficient manner possible. Call us at (954) 884-8385 or find out more about our legal services online. Set up a time to talk to us about your legal needs today.