Will and estate planning are really the last words in your financial planning process. You have already taken the time to plan out your budget, savings, and investments; you have created a family financial plan. Now it’s time to talk to an estate planning attorney about the specifics of your plan. Estate planning can help ensure your needs are met after you pass away, as well as ensuring your wishes are carried out as you wish.
Will and estate planning typically involve creating a Will, which is a legal document that legally names your beneficiaries. Wills are often created by a person, while Durable Power Of Attorney names a person who is authorized to make your Will. Additionally, you may name a guardian or devise a revocable living trust. Creating a Will and estate plan will also include establishing a durable power of attorney, which lets someone take over your finances and business dealings without your permission. If you own property in more than one jurisdiction, and each jurisdiction has different laws regarding wills and probate, your Will should take effect in each jurisdiction…
Probate is when your Will is read to be executed and then officially recorded. If a probate hearing is necessary, your attorney should file and attend any necessary paperwork to make sure your Will is properly executed and recorded. Once recorded, a Will becomes legally binding, so your heirs must follow your instructions exactly when executing your Will. In some cases, your Will can be modified by your heirs, if certain conditions exist.
Another detail of Will and estate planning concerns the creation and administration of a trust. A trust is a legal entity, created by you, that is used to store and safe to keep your personal and financial assets. Each member of the trust is assigned a trustee, who administers the Will. All beneficiaries are usually named in the Will, which is then distributed according to your instructions. A qualified attorney can help you create a trust, or have you make one on your own.
Some people think they can save money by making their own Will. This isn’t always possible, because a Will doesn’t make decisions for you, it only says what happens to your property after you die. To make decisions, you would need a valid Power of Attorney, and a Will must be signed under penalty of perjury. Therefore, executing a Will and estate planning attorney-formatted to bypass the legal process would be illegal.
In addition, executing a Will and estate planning documents on your own could subject you to criminal prosecution. Criminal defense attorney Michael Lasko of Lasko & Associates Women’s Legal Services in Temecula, California, cautions, “No one, not even relatives can force you to give up your family estate. No one has the right to take your property without your authorization. And you certainly don’t have to let them.” Unfortunately, he said, there are some unscrupulous people out there who may be willing to file false claims against people’s estates, using the “special damages” part of a Will.
Another concern for most people with Will and estate issues is the possibility that someone can take their property without paying their inheritance tax liability, without their knowledge or consent. Estate tax lawyers and agents can make this more difficult through complex estate planning documents, and hiring an experienced attorney. They can also help to settle any outstanding debts, protect valuable inheritance assets such as artwork and antiques, and avoid probate and taxes by executing a Will. If you aren’t comfortable making a Will on your own, you might consider discussing your options with a legal document consultant.
The IRS issues a Form W-8, which you can fill out to establish the details of your estate plan. It is very helpful if your intended beneficiary is someone who is not a relative. They can also help you fill out any necessary forms and get the proper instructions from you. If you are in need of a quick grantor trust, talk to your attorney. There are many businesses offering this service and many offer it for a low cost. In the end, though, it is up to you to decide what kind of foundation works best for your particular situation.
If you are thinking about will and estate planning then contact us today.