Believe it or not, everyone has an estate. No matter the value or size of your current assets, everything from your home to personal possessions is a portion of your estate. If not allocated before passing, settling your estate can involve feuds and expensive legal actions. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about estate planning, and most people are unprepared if they pass away. Many family members must battle the court system to retain important family assets. Losing a family member is enough to deal with. You can help your family avoid the confusing and complex legal routine by simply discussing your estate with a financial advisor at Armed Forces Benefits Network.
5 Tips and Tricks for Estate Planning
Estate planning can protect your assets and your family from paying unnecessary taxes. Ensure that your wishes are considered when you pass by taking these things into account:
- Your age does not matter. Anyone who is of legal age and has any assets, for example, a car, a house, or a bank account, should be prepared to allocate those assets if you pass away unexpectedly. All of your possessions have value and must be accounted for.
- You need some advice. Whether that’s a financial planner or an estate planning attorney, they can help you devise a plan for your financial future. Estate planning crosses many legal areas, from title offices to taxes to guardianship. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will or trust, which provides explicit instructions for your assets.
- Avoid probate. Probate is the process of authenticating your will and verifying that assets are correctly named, and any outstanding debts are paid or allocated to next of kin. Probate can be a time-consuming process, and in some cases can give the majority of power to the state rather than your family. Wouldn’t you rather be in control of what happens to your possessions?
- Minimize family disputes. When you pass away, a lot of stress is put on your family’s shoulders to ensure that your things are appropriately allocated and taken care of. Disagreements over estates routinely tear families apart, especially if one member feels they are being treated unfairly. Involving a mediator like an attorney, can prevent these feuds from driving your family apart.
- Estate planning can help you organize and correct documents. When you die, does your family know where to find documents such as titles, insurance policies, or financial records? An innocent error on a document could be why some of your assets go through probate while others won’t. Estate planning can help you correct any mistakes that might be present on documents and ensure that all of the documents are in a secure place.
Things to Consider
If you don’t plan your estate, someone else will, whether you like it or not. If you become disabled and deemed unable to make decisions or pass away, only someone a court appoints can sign for you. The court will ultimately control how your assets are used or allocated, usually leaving your family with only a portion of your estate or what it might be worth. Given a choice, since you still have one, wouldn’t you prefer that these matters be handled privately and with someone you trust?
When beginning to plan your estate, there are some hoops that you must jump through to understand the process that you are about to go through. You must take the time to plan to whom your assets will be distributed and what exactly they will be entitled to, in order to avoid finding yourself in a strange position. In whatever state you are currently residing, there are complicated processes put in place called probate. Probate is the process of authenticating your will and verifying that assets are correctly named, and any outstanding debts are paid or allocated to next of kin. Once probate is complete, which, depending on where you live, might be a simple or drudging process, your assets are approved for distribution.
Be sure to start planning and contact a financial advisor with AFBN to begin discussing the first step in preparing for a life-altering event and protecting your family from battling the complicated processes of distributing assets. Contact our nearest location today!