A common concern we hear in the initial stages of estate planning is that people think they do not have enough assets for an estate plan to be worth it. “I just need a simple will,” they often say. However, the premise of an estate plan is not for tax purposes (unless you are a multi-millionaire) and is not about solely about distributing the money. The primary reason for an estate plan is to develop a strategy – to put a structure in place that gives you the flexibility you want and will handle the contingencies of life.
A good example of this can be seen in a complicated trust we recently developed. Our clients were looking to leave their vacation cabin to their 15 grandchildren with the expectation that they would all be able to use it. While the cabin was only worth $25,000, it was important to them that all their grandchildren would have access and that there was no animosity within the family. By establishing these wishes through a trust instead of a will, they guaranteed they would be honored once they were gone without causing needless complication or court involvement.
Beyond the transfer of wealth and assets, there are other factors that should prompt you to have an estate plan in place, such as:
Some estate plans include a trust, but many do not. Without a trust, your wishes will be honored, whether that is through a beneficiary designation or through your will. With a will, for your assets to be allocated according to your wishes, they will have to go through the probate courts, which usually means:
With a proper estate plan in place, these inconveniences can often be avoided. Beginning the process of creating an estate plan tends to be the hardest part. Take the first step by consulting a lawyer to get all your questions answered and come up with a strategy specific to your needs. From there, your attorney will walk you through the entire process.
Keep in mind, it is often less expensive to set up an estate plan and go through the work on the front end, rather than not having one in place and going through probate. In many cases, estate plans can be done in less than three weeks.
Start today with a free consultation.