For folks with a limited number of assets, and a straightforward family situation, a basic estate plan is probably enough. With a basic estate plan, you simply leave a Will that dictates who will inherit your property when you pass away, and you establish an incapacity plan in case you become mentally or physically disabled during your lifetime.
But, what if you have a large number of assets, or you own a business, or you’re part of a blended or other type of “non-traditional” family? Then, you might need to talk to your estate planning attorney about advanced planning.
What are some examples of situations where advanced estate planning might be necessary?
- Non-Traditional Families. If you or your spouse (or both) have children from a previous marriage, or if you and your partner are not married, then advanced estate planning can help you balance the needs of all your family members if you pass away.
- Children With Special Needs. If you have a child with a disability, and that child receives government benefits, you know how strict the income and property rules are. If your child inherits even a modest amount of money or property, then his or her benefits could be interrupted, creating unnecessary hardship. The solution? Advanced estate planning with a Special Needs Trust. A properly established special needs trust allows you to provide for your disabled child after you’re gone, without jeopardizing his or her benefits.
- Concerns About Loved Ones’ Spending Habits. What if you have a child who has trouble managing his or her finances, or who struggles with an addiction, or who might be faced with a lawsuit? With advanced estate planning, you can establish a trust that meets your child’s financial needs, while protecting him or her from poor financial decision-making, creditors and lawsuits, or even a divorcing spouse.
- Estate Tax Concerns. If your estate is large enough for the estate tax to be a concern, then advanced estate planning is a necessity. With tools like an AB trust, and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or a charitable trust, you can accomplish your estate planning goals while minimizing your tax bill.
- Business Owners. If you own a business, do you have a plan for what will happen to it if you pass away unexpectedly – or even if you suffer a disability that keeps you from operating your business? Your estate planning attorney can help you develop a succession plan, so that your business can carry on even in your absence.