When Is The Best Time To Start Planning For Your Estate?
There really is no time that’s too early to start planning for your estate. If you own literally nothing then maybe you don’t need an estate plan, but most people could benefit from at least a basic will. If you own any kind of real estate, a business, or have a sizable amount of cash in the bank or any type of investment then you probably need to take some additional steps to make sure that what you have built goes smoothly to the next generation.
Is it ever too late? If you were to pass unexpectedly, that’s obviously too late. None of us ever knows when our day is going to come. We don’t like to think about it, but even a young person could have a stroke and end up in a situation where they can’t manage their own affairs. It’s never too early and it can definitely be too late.
I go through what all the different options are and make sure that my clients get at least a basic plan that’s affordable for their situation. Hopefully, we’ve built a relationship so that as the estate grows we can help move them into a more complex type of growth planning as necessary. I give every client a full analysis to see whether they just need a simple trust, a simple will, or maybe a family trust. For larger estates, there are more complex tools.
What Exactly Is A Will? Does It Need To Be A Part Of Every Estate Plan?
Everyone should have at least a basic will. A will is a document. It must be witnessed by several disinterested people and that’s just to make sure that you understand what you’re doing and that you’re not being forced to do it. You’ve got to remember that the will only speak when somebody dies, so obviously you wouldn’t be there to straighten out any misunderstandings. That’s what the witnesses are for.
The will should even be a part of a trust-based estate plan. The only difference is that an old fashioned will directs where all your property should go. In a trust-based plan, we do what’s called a pour-over will. All the pour-over will do is make sure that anything they’ve forgotten pours over into the trust.
What you’re really trying to do in your plan is to avoid the probate process and a will on its own will not do that. If you’ve got an estate of more than twenty-five thousand dollars, any land, or especially a business, you probably need something a little bit more than just a basic will.
How Often Should People Review Or Update Their Existing Estate Plans?
I recommend that people take a look at their plan at least every couple of years just as a matter of routine. Of course, people tend to not do that. They’ll put it on the shelf and not pull it out for decades at a time. If there’s a major life change – for example, a birth, a death, a marriage or divorce, any large major change in the family structure – then it’s probably time to just take a look at it and see if it needs a little bit of an update. You don’t always need to start from scratch and redo the entire plan. For example, if grandchildren are born, we may want to name them specifically as beneficiaries or as backup beneficiaries.
The trust has to own everything. When you pass or become incapacitated, it already owns everything and all we have to do is to name a new manager. If you acquire new property that can be a time to come see me and just make sure that everything is up to date and good to go for you.
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