If you are new to the concept of estate planning, you may be feeling a little intimidated at the prospect of sitting down and creating an estate plan. You may also have a number of questions related to estate planning that you need to be answered before you get started with your own plan. The Vero Beach estate planning lawyers at Kulas & Crawford want you to feel comfortable with the entire estate planning process so they have answered a few of the most common questions for you. If you have specific questions relating to your estate plan, make sure to write them down and go over them with your estate planning attorney at your consultation.
- I don’t have a large estate yet. Why do I need an estate plan? This is a very common misconception about the need for an estate plan. People frequently think they need to have amassed a large fortune or be married with children before the need for an estate plan arises. The truth, however, is that every adult should have at least a basic estate plan in place. Although you may not have acquired numerous valuable assets yet, the assets you do own probably mean something to you. Consequently, you likely do not want the State of Arizona deciding what happens to them after your death.
- My minor children cannot inherit from me directly. How do I leave them an inheritance? Minors cannot inherit directly from anyone. If you are married, you may simply leave your entire estate to your spouse to hold and manage for your children until they reach the age of majority. If you are unmarried, or you are concerned about your spouse’s ability to manage their inheritance, a trust may be the better choice. A trust allows you to name anyone you want as the Trustee who will manage and invest the trust assets and administer the trust terms. Your children can benefit from the trust assets while they are minors and then receive what is left directly once they reach adulthood.
- How can I plan for the possibility of my own incapacity? Your estate plan can include an incapacity planning component. Within that component, you may decide to create a revocable living trust that is often used as an incapacity planning tool to shift control of your assets to the person of your choice if incapacity strikes. You may also include advanced directives that address your medical care in the event of your incapacity.
- How often should I review and revise my estate plan? As a matter of course, you should review every three to five years during your working years and every five to eight years during your retirement years. Certain life events, however, call for an immediate review. If you get married or divorce, have a child, or move to another state, for example, you should review your estate plan right away.
- How can I keep my estate from going through probate? Probate avoidance is a common estate planning goal because formal probate can be costly, both in terms of time and money. The key to avoiding probate, or at least minimizing the time your estate spends in probate, is to leave behind as few probate assets as possible. Non-probate assets bypass the probate process altogether. Common examples of non-probate assets include:
- Assets held in a trust
- Life insurance proceeds
- Assets held in an account designated as “payable on death (POD)” or “transfer on death (TOD)”
- Certain types of jointly held property
- Funds held in many types of retirement plan or pension plans
Contact Vero Beach Estate Planning Lawyers
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your estate plan, or if you are ready to get started on your first estate plan, contact the experienced Vero Beach estate planning lawyers at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.