While it is not something that you want to think about very often, you will not be around forever to take care of your loved ones. Death or disability can strike when you’re least expecting it. Without a plan in place, your loved ones might find themselves left with a complicated situation that could be expensive and time consuming and they may be forced to pay unnecessary taxes. It is a mistake to think that you can put off planning until later on in life. The time to develop an estate and trust plan is now.
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An estate and trust plan is not just a will
If you have never learned the difference, you might be wondering what makes an estate and trust plan different from a simple will and why you would want to choose one or the other.
A will is a legal document that includes instruction on who receives your property when you die. A will names a legal representative who will oversee that your instructions are carried out.
A complete estate and trust plan, however, contains much more. You will want to consider having a living trust, power of attorney for both finances and healthcare decisions, and a living will which directs how you want care provided, or not, if death is imminent.
When you develop a trust, your trustee holds the legal possession of your property for your beneficiaries. When a living trust is established, you are usually the trustee and beneficiary. Therefore, you are in control, just as you are now. Should you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to disability, incapacity or death you name a successor trustee to handle your affairs.
Living trusts have an advantage over wills in that they do not pass through probate. A will passes through a probate, which is a court process that ensures the will is legally-binding and that your wishes are enforced. The probate period can be time consuming and expensive. Probate is also a public process, which means once your will is filed with the court anyone can access a copy. Since a living trust does not pass through a probate, it can save your loved ones time and money and it keeps your estate out of the public eye.
Your state has a plan for you if you don’t make your own
In the event that one has not prepared for disability or death, each state has regulations in place for what happens with a person’s assets. Unfortunately, these regulations are generally not as beneficial to your loved ones as you would probably like.
In many states, if you cannot make business decisions due to mental or physical disability, then a court appointee will be assigned to make decisions in your place. This may or may not be a family member or trusted friend. The appointee will make decisions about your care if disabled. . This is an expensive and laborious process.
If you die without an estate and trust plan, your state has written a last will and testament for you, which distributes your assets according to state law and regulation. It is unlikely that this distribution will be completely according to your wishes.
In general, state plans are much more stressful and less beneficial for your loved ones. It’s in their best interest and for your peace of mind to formulate a plan now that you know will take care of them.
Develop your estate and trust plan with a CFP® professional at ProVise
Without an estate and trust plan, navigating life after your disability or passing can be a mess. Our CFP® professionals work with you to develop a plan now so you and your loved ones are prepared for an unexpected tragedy like disability or death.
Are you ready to talk to a CFP® professional at ProVise and develop your estate and trust plan to keep your loved ones secure when you cannot? Contact ProVise today for a complimentary consultation.
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