During our time in the world, we try to make the best of our lives by maximizing our potential, leaving a mark in the form of commitment to work, and in many cases, creating a family. But how does one ensure that their legacy is properly honored after they die?
Understandably, many become concerned with that very question far in advance of their passing. Indeed, at ARM lawyers, we believe in planning ahead. That is why, our team is specially trained to provide counsel on the subject of planning your estate – so that you can begin taking charge and setting forth a thoughtful, brilliant future.
Why Do I Need Estate Planning?
There are laws in every state regarding the distribution of one’s estate. Typically, however, those laws would fail to reflect the unique needs of the estate’s owner. In order for the estate assets to be administered, a probate process would be initiated in court. This judicial process is not concerned with protecting the estate owner’s family or preserving their assets. In fact, it is nearly impossible to go through the probate process without it turning into a time consuming and difficult battle with the state. Matters of dispute over certain properties can take months or even years to resolve, all the while accruing extensive legal bills. That is why, it is wise to work with an attorney who will formulate methods of probate avoidance specifically designed to fit your needs, while protecting your and your family’s privacy.
Estate Planning Devices
Estate planning is not only a sensible way of gaining control over what happens to your estate in the event of your incapacity or death. It is also a legal structure, which with appropriate counsel, can help you optimize the passing over of your estate. It is not infrequent, that in the absence of due arrangements, an estate becomes subject to complex court proceedings, heavy taxation and other unwelcome expenses. Estate planning uses many devices to help protect you and your family against anxiety over your estate. These legal devices include but are not limited to: life insurance, revocable living wills, various forms of trusts tailored to your personal requirements, distribution of life gifts, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, and more.
It is the task of a skilled attorney, to come up with a strategy that not only specifically addresses your needs, but also takes advantage of your personal circumstance. For example, a grandmother with many grandchildren can choose to distribute some of her wealth in the form of payments of college tuition for each of them, thus avoiding gift and/or inheritance tax and simultaneously capping her overall estate to avoid being subject to higher estate taxes when she passes. Someone who owns multiple properties may choose to transfer rights of ownership to a loved one, or create a joint tenancy so that they can come to inherit the properties without amassing gargantuan fees.
Systems of trusts, with strict guidelines, may be created for some clients’ beneficiaries with distinct goals in mind – such as a spendthrift trust for a child with a knack for extravagant spending, or a special needs trust for a child with a disability. For someone who is passionate about a cause, an attorney would be able to direct the apportionment of their charitable gifts or trusts.
When Do I Need to Start Planning My Estate?
It is a common misconception that estate planning is for the old or the retired. It is never too early to start planning your estate! Beginning to outline your estate plan early will not only determine your estate’s distribution after you die or become incapacitated, but will also help you continue expanding your wealth in a manner that accounts not only for today, but for the more uncertain tomorrow.