It’s something that everyone needs, but often overlooks—estate planning. When you die, you leave your worldly possessions behind. By planning in advance, you have the say as to who receives which assets. The people you care about, are more apt to receive your property.
Your estate plan can be simple or complicated. The New Hampshire Union Leader’s recent article, “Estate planning is important and may require help from a professional,” says that some strategies are definitely easier to implement—like having a will, for example. Others are more complex, like creating a trust. Whatever your needs, most strategies will probably necessitate that you hire a qualified estate planning attorney. Here are some situations that may require special planning attention:
- Your estate is valued at more than the federal gift and/or estate tax applicable exclusion amount ($11.4 million per person in 2019);
- You have minor children
- You have loved ones with special needs who depend on you
- You own a business
- You have property in more than one state
- You want to donate to charities
- You own valuable artwork or collectibles
- You have specific thoughts concerning health care
- You desire privacy and want to avoid the probate process
First, you need to understand your situation, and that includes factors like your age, health and wealth. Your thoughts about benefitting family members and taxes also need to be considered. You’ll want to have plans in place should you become incapacitated.
Next, think about your goals and objectives. Some common goals are:
- Providing financial security for your family
- Preserving property for your heirs
- Avoiding disputes among family members or business partners
- Giving to a charity
- Managing your affairs, if you are disabled
- Having sufficient liquidity to pay the expenses of your estate
- Transferring ownership of your property or business interests
If you have minor children, you must have a will to address guardianship, unless your state provides an alternative legal means to do so. Some people many need a trust to properly address their planning concerns. Some of your assets will also have their own beneficiary designations. Once you have you a plan, review it every few years or when there’s a birth, adoption, death, or divorce in the family.
If you are an adult without an estate plan in place, we invite you to request a consultation with one of our Madison, Wisconsin, or Rockford, Illinois, area estate planning attorneys.