Estate planning is a basic responsibility of adulthood, but unfortunately, most Americans are unprepared. When you fail to plan ahead for something that is inevitably going to happen, you are doing your loved ones a disservice.
In this post, we will share five reasons why you should definitely work with an attorney from our firm to put an estate plan in place.
Facilitate Timely and Efficient Asset Transfers
Do you want your loved ones to wait around for many months to receive their inheritances? This is what will happen if you state your final wishes in a simple will, because it would be admitted to probate.
The probate process takes place under the supervision of a court, and it is time consuming. No inheritances are distributed while the estate is being probated, and while the waiting game is underway, probate expenses are accumulating.
If you use a revocable living trust to serve as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well. You would retain complete control of the assets, and you would name a successor trustee to assume the role after your death.
When the time comes, the trustee would distribute the assets to the beneficiaries in a timely and efficient manner outside of probate.
Prevent Confusion and Acrimony
The condition of intestacy would exist if you die without any estate planning documents at all. Once again, the probate court would be called upon to step in to provide supervision during the estate administration process.
When there are no final wishes stated, family members can potentially have disagreements, and a messy situation can develop. At the end of the process, the assets would be distributed under the intestate succession laws of the state of Kansas.
Ultimately, people who you would have never left out can be disinherited or shortchanged, and hard feelings among family members can linger. This type of thing can be avoided if you proactively implement a plan that provides for your loved ones in accordance with your wishes.
Protect Your Family Members
The vast majority of younger adults do not have estate plans in place, and many of them are the parents of dependent children. You should definitely take the right steps to protect your loved ones if you are the parent of a minor child.
A guardian can be named in a will, and you can use life insurance to serve as an income replacement vehicle. An estate plan that is built to protect a minor may include a testamentary trust or a custodial account.
There is another type of protection that would apply to adults. Some people are not good with money, and a spendthrift could burn through their inheritance too quickly and have nowhere to turn in the future.
In addition to the probate avoidance benefit, you can include spendthrift protections if you utilize a living trust. The trust would become irrevocable after your death, and the assets would be protected from the beneficiary’s creditors.
You could instruct the trustee to distribute limited assets on an incremental basis to prolong the viability of the trust.
Limit Estate Tax Exposure
The federal estate tax is applicable on transfers that exceed $11.7 million. If your estate will be subject to taxation, you can take steps to mitigate your exposure.
This tax is one looming threat, and there are 12 states in the union that have state-level estate taxes.
Kansas is not one of them, but if you own property in a state with an estate tax, that tax would be applicable if the value of the property exceeds the exclusion in that state. State-level exclusions are much lower than the federal exclusion.
If you are a business owner or a person who is in a high-risk profession, asset protection should be a priority. There are legal steps you can take to mitigate your exposure to legal actions.
We Are Here to Help!
The truth is, there is no reason to not have your affairs in order because it is simple and easy to get a private consultation with us where we answer all your questions and create the Will or Trust that makes sense for you. You can schedule a consultation at our Overland Park, Kansas estate planning office if you call us at 913-262-2000, and you can use our contact form to send us a message.