Reasons to Create an Estate Plan
An estate plan is a set of documents and steps you take to ensure your property and benefits are transferred to the individuals, businesses, or charities of your choosing. In your estate plan, you determine how your money, property, and other assets are divided and how they are transferred to the intended recipients. You can also plan for how you will be taken care of in your later years and specify how you would like your family to proceed when you pass. By making all of these decisions ahead of time, you enable your family and friends to focus on each other during a difficult time and not on finances or legal procedures.
Five Reasons You Need an Estate Plan
- Provide for your surviving family and friends. The No. 1 most important reason to plan your estate is to provide for your relatives and close friends. Without any planning on your part, not even a will, all of your estate will go through intestacy and be distributed according to state law. It is often preferable for you to decide how your property is divided. Also, simply writing a will may not be enough if you have a large estate. When there are considerable assets to pass on, you will want to consider how property is best transferred as well as the financial consequences for the recipients of that property. You may need to consider transferring property before you pass, perfecting new titles, or creating a trust to ease the process in the future.
- Plan for your future health care needs. Planning your estate means more than deciding where your property and money go when you pass away. It also means anticipating your future needs, which could include additional medical care, disability, incapacity, or incompetence. You should plan who will make certain decisions for you in the future by establishing powers of attorney and living wills. It is often best for your family if you make your wishes known ahead of time. Then the person who will hold decision-making powers has time to prepare.
- Transfer property quickly. There are two ways to pass property and benefits to your beneficiaries quickly: asset titling and naming them as beneficiaries. If you create a joint title with the rights of survivorship for an asset with the person you want to inherit that property, then that person retains the property when you pass. There is no need for the property to go through your will or probate. For retirement, insurance, and annuity benefits, you can name a specific beneficiary. Both of these options can speed up the process for a beneficiary to receive property or income and will override a will or trust.
- Minimize taxation and additional expenses. Whether you have a respectable or substantial estate, you will want to consider the tax consequences of your plans. The point of living certain property or benefits to a family member can be diluted if that individual must then pay a substantial tax liability. Your attorney can help you determine ways to transfer property, such as through a joint title with survivorship or through a trust that will minimize taxation. Your attorney can also anticipate other expenses that would fall to your beneficiaries and determine ways to minimize these financial consequences.
- Continue your business. If you own or are part of a business, maybe even one you started and built yourself, you need to plan for how this will continue once you are no longer able to work. This may mean passing on your shares or position to a family member or business partner. An experienced business attorney like Larry E. Bray can help you develop a plan for both your personal and business assets.
Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. Today
If you have not planned your estate any further than a basic will, you should call Larry E. Bray as soon as possible to begin discussing your options. As predictable as life may seem, unexpected events can happen and throw your family into turmoil. It is best to be prepared for whatever the future brings. Do not wait to make crucial decisions for you and your family until it is too late. Call West Palm Beach estate planning attorney Larry E. Bray at 561-571-8970 to schedule an initial consultation.