When you plan your estate, you are preparing to give final gifts to the people that you love the most. This is one of the most important tasks that you will ever undertake, so the planning process should not be taken lightly.
In a real sense, estate planning is all about protection. The first consideration is to make sure that you are safe and comfortable throughout your life, and at the same time, you can have an eye on the legacy that you will be able to leave to your family members.
It is important to take the right steps, because people sometimes make mistakes due to a lack of information. Every situation is different, and there are many different estate planning approaches that can be taken.
This is why personalized attention is so very important, and that is exactly what you will get if you choose to work with our firm. We go the extra mile to get to know our clients, and we put people at ease, because we know that it can be hard to discuss these very personal matters.
A last will can seem like a very straightforward estate planning tool that is the right choice for most people. You may assume that assets are distributed to your loved ones quickly and efficiently if you use a will as the centerpiece of your estate plan.
This is not really true, and many families find out the hard way.
If you were to create a will, you would name an executor to handle the estate administration tasks after you pass away. The executor would be required to admit the will to probate, and the court would provide supervision during the administration process.
Final debts are paid during probate, and creditors are given an opportunity to come forward to seek satisfaction. There is also a proving of the will. The court examines the will to make sure that it is valid, and if anyone wants to contest its validity, they can come forward during this process.
These activities take time, and the executor has to identify the assets, inventory them, and prepare the resources for distribution. All the while, expenses are accumulating, and money that is spent during probate is coming out of the pockets of the people that will eventually receive inheritances.
It will usually take about seven months to a year for probate to run its course, and no inheritances are distributed while it is underway. Clearly, probate is not necessarily positive for the rightful inheritors, and there is another drawback you should consider.
Generally speaking, you would be allowing for lump sum distributions if you use a will to express your final wishes. This can be a source of concern if you have someone that is not a good money manager on your inheritance list.
A good alternative to a last will if these negatives don’t sound very appealing is a living trust. This type of trust is revocable, so if you ever change your mind for any reason, you can dissolve the trust and take back direct personal possession of the property.
You can act as the trustee while you are alive and well, so there is no loss of control on any level. In the trust declaration, you would name a trustee to take over the role after you are gone, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries.
When the time comes, the trustee would be able to distribute resources outside of probate, so all of the drawbacks would be avoided. Plus, if you want the trustee to distribute limited assets over an extended period of time, you can make it happen when you create the trust.
Other Types of Trusts
There are other types of trust that can be used to satisfy various different estate planning goals.
For example, a supplemental needs trust can be used to provide for a loved one with special needs without impacting government benefits. You could alternately transfer assets into a trust to become eligible for Medicaid to pay for long-term care.
These are just a couple of examples, but there are many others.
Need Help Now?
If you are ready to put an estate plan in place, our doors are open. You can schedule a consultation appointment right now if you give us a call at 248-251-1001. There is also a contact form this website you can use if you would like to reach out through the Internet.