Secure the future for your loved ones.
According to AARP, while most of us know we should make preparations for end of life, relatively few of us have actually done it—only 4 in 10 American adults have a will or living trust. Older adults are more likely to have these important documents than younger adults (58 percent of those between 53 and 71 have a will or trust while 78 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 36 do not even have a will). Overall, people tend to be more proactive about their health, therefore have a health care power of attorney even when they do not have a will or trust. When the group of adults in the survey were asked why they did not have a will or trust, the top answer was “just haven’t gotten around to it,” while the second most-common answer was “I don’t have enough assets to matter.”
In fact, one of the primary misconceptions regarding estate planning is that only the very wealthy have—or need—estate plans, when virtually everyone could benefit from a comprehensive Alabama estate plan. Any person who has concerns about what will happen to their family and their assets in the event of incapacity or death should definitely engage in estate planning. Speaking to an experienced Athens estate planning attorney can ensure you are aware of the many choices available as you plan for the future. These choices could potentially include a will, a living trust, Medicaid planning and power of attorney documents. Your estate planning attorney can answer your questions and help you effectively manage your estate now, while receiving invaluable guidance to help you secure the future for your loved ones.
Which Estate Planning Documents Do I Need?
While thinking about estate planning may not be easy, doing so can help those you care about potentially avoid a painful legal battle while ensuring your wishes for them are followed. Your estate plan may begin with a will, particularly if you have minor children. Your will can establish a guardian for your children in the event of your death or disability while also spelling out how you want your estate divided.
A simple power of attorney can name a person of your choice to take care of your affairs should you become incapacitated and unable to do so on your own. An advanced directive can detail how you would choose to have health care decisions made on your behalf if you were unable to make those decisions and a revocable living trust can distribute your assets to those you choose, without the lengthy, public process of probate. The highly experienced Martinson & Beason Athens estate planning attorneys can tailor these documents to your specific situation.
In short, estate planning could be one of the most important tasks you can engage in to protect those you love. Every estate plan is tailored exclusively to the individual, meaning your estate plan will take into account your specific needs and interests. Although we primarily think of estate planning as something that benefits our loved ones, there are other reasons to engage in estate planning, namely:
- An estate plan can help you protect your assets from unforeseen creditors; once you know a lawsuit is pending, it’s too late to protect your assets. Pair a sound financial plan with a comprehensive estate plan, and your assets can be protected not only during your lifetime, but after your death.
- An estate plan can allow you to provide for worthwhile causes and charities while receiving income and estate tax benefits.
- An estate plan can allow you to choose a person via a power of attorney who can manage your affairs if you should become incapacitated. With no well-thought out estate plan in place, a judge would choose a person to take care of your financial and personal affairs if you were unable to manage them yourself.
- If you own a business, an estate plan is even more crucial. A successor can be named in your estate plan, eliminating the chance that your family could lose control of your business. An estate plan allows you to choose who will own and control your business after you are gone.
- The costs and taxes associated with not having an estate plan can be enormous. Some of those costs can include probate and state taxes, federal estate tax, federal inheritance tax, federal income tax and federal gift tax. In other words, if you are not enthusiastic about having the government end up with your hard-earned assets, then estate planning is essential.
- If you have a retirement account, then you need to have a current estate plan which reflects your wishes regarding the beneficiary. Further, with no estate plan in place, your designated beneficiary could end up with burdensome tax consequences associated with your retirement account.
Benefits to Your Heirs When You Have An Estate Plan
Of course, there are also many benefits to your heirs when you prepare a comprehensive estate plan. In today’s society, multiple marriages can result in blended families, therefore when there is no estate plan in place, children from different marriages may not be treated as you would wish. If you have a child with special needs, your estate plan can ensure that child is not disqualified from receiving federal assistance such as SSI benefits or Medicaid. A Supplemental Needs Trust can be established in order to ensure that child’s inheritance will not be depleted for their day-to-day care. If you prefer that the assets you leave to your child remain in your family rather than going to his or her spouse, an estate plan allows you to set up a trust which ensures just that.
An experienced Athens estate planning attorney from Martinson & Beason can help you set up a realistic estate plan which is tailored to your individual circumstances. You can rest easy knowing your future and the future of those you love is taken care, due to your estate planning attorney’s extensive knowledge of Alabama estate laws as well as federal estate laws. At Martinson & Beason we truly care about your future–Contact a Martinson & Beason attorney today for a comprehensive estate planning consultation.