Nothing is sure in life except death and taxes. While this saying is frequently overused, it’s still a fact of life. As humans, our mortality rate is 100 percent. Sadly, many people fail to prepare for this inevitable situation. Thus, their lack of preparation leaves those behind to deal with many financial issues upon their death.
In the United States alone, if you don’t have a will or financial estate documentation, a stranger is going to have to deal with all of these issues. The stranger is going to be the one that has to determine who gets what, who has to pay for what and any other necessities all because of lack of preparation. They will have to follow the due process of the law and those who you wish to leave something may be left out because it wasn’t written down in a will form.
However, there is another way to do this. If you take the time to write out your decisions and your wishes in a legally prepared form you can ensure that those you wish to receive things will receive them. You can save countless hours of probate court and estate dealings for your family members. You can prevent your hard earned money from being siphoned out and into the court systems. It’s ironic that many who have worked so hard in life for everything that they have, would leave this one last thread undone.
Estate Preparation Basics
With laws being very complex, and estate planning left undone, there isn’t any other choice but to put something like this through court and place it into a strangers hands. Tax laws frequently get updated and change. An estate attorney will have to take the time to check on all of these laws and make sure that all of the documentation is properly prepared for his or her clients. Professional wealth managers and financial planners may also have to be involved in this step. Moderate estates can benefit as well from such advice that these professionals offer.
The larger the estate, the more important this step is. A good estate planner will need to be involved in order to preserve as much as possible.
If the estate will be handled through the execution of the will, there should be at minimum the following documents included:
Living Will: This will ensure that end of life wishes are carried out through medical treatment. It will tell medical personnel if someone does not wish to be resuscitated.
Advanced Medical Directives: This will appoint a person or persons to make medical decisions should you be unable to make such decisions.
Financial Power of Attorney: If you’re incapacitated this person can move your assets into trust funds and make financial decisions for you.
Should you select a trust based planning of your Last Will and Testament this will replace the Power Over Will. This will enable asset transfers into an estate trust fund. Often this is written and referred to as a Revocable Living Trust. Larger estates will need more documentation than will the smaller estates.
Estate planning attorneys will also provide their clients with a checklist to make sure that everything is done and that all the documentation is in order. Additionally, they may also assist in the preparation of these documents. At minimum they will require:
A List of liabilities and the assets, this will include;
- Contact info for all of the family members
- Ownership titles and contracts
- Documents, agreements and any relevant contracts
- Tax Records for the past three years
- Location of account authorizations and passwords as well as locations of keys
Estate planning attorneys will assist in this process and help to plan an effective and efficient plan for their clients. The best way to protect your loved ones and make sure your belongings go to who you wish for them to go to is to take the time to create a good estate plan.
Wild Felice & Partners is a Ft. Lauderdale based law firm specializing in estate planning, asset protection and probate administration. Utilizing aspects of real estate law, estate planning strategies and asset structuring they protect their clients from potential litigation, creditors, and any other threats that may negatively impact an estate.