When researchers delve into the subject, they find that most Americans do not have estate plans in place. A lot of these people know that planning is important, and in fact, this has been measured by surveys.
One reason why they stay frozen in inaction is because they do not know where to begin. With this in mind, we will provide a simple step-by-step approach that you can take to initiate the inheritance planning process.
Take Stock of Your Assets
The first order of business will be to determine exactly what you expect to be able to pass along to your loved ones. Aside from the obvious significant resources, you should also evaluate the heirlooms that you have and other possessions that family members may enjoy.
Make an Inheritance List
Once you know what you have to give, you have to decide how you are going to be distributing the assets. When it comes heirlooms another and other items of value that you have, you probably know that certain family members are attached to particular things.
Some people actually pass along their heirlooms when they are still alive. This is something to seriously consider because it can be meaningful for both parties.
Evaluate Asset Transfer Methods
There are many different ways to get assets into the hands of your loved ones. A lot of people automatically assume that a last will is the right choice if you are not a multimillionaire, but this is an oversimplification.
The estate planning device called a revocable living trust will be a better choice for a wide range of people. When you establish a living trust, you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are alive and well. There is no loss of control, and you retain the power of revocation.
One major benefit is the consolidation of the assets that will comprise the estate. You name a successor trustee to administer the trust after you are gone. When all or most of your property has been conveyed into the trust, the trustee will walk into a turnkey situation.
This is one of the advantages, but there are many others, and we will look at them in future posts.
In addition to the revocable living trust, there are other trusts that can satisfy specific objectives. For example, if you have someone with a disability in the family, you have to consider the potential loss of need-based government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
A supplemental needs trust can be used to provide for someone who is in this situation without impacting government benefit eligibility.
Consider Incapacity Planning
Unfortunately, a very significant percentage of elders become unable to handle their own affairs at some point in time. Alzheimer’s strikes about one third of the those over age 80, and there are other causes of incapacity in various forms.
You can account for this possibility through the execution of certain documents. Your life-support preferences can be expressed in a living will, and you can name a medical decision maker in a durable power of attorney for health care.
Another one of the good things about a living trust is the fact that you can name a disability trustee that would manage the trust in the event of your incapacity.
A durable power of attorney for property can be used to accomplish the same thing if you do not have a trust. Even if you do, a power of attorney would give an agent the ability to manage property that was not conveyed into the trust.
Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney!
Once you have a general understanding of the way you want to proceed, it is time to take the final step. If you have reached that point, we are ready to help you put a custom crafted estate plan in place.
You can schedule an appointment in Charlotte, North Carolina or Huntersville, North Carolina if you call us at 704-944-3245. Our Ashland, Kentucky office can be reached at 606-324-5516, and our Florence, Kentucky office can be reached at 859-372-6655. There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message.