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Good Estate Planning Keeps Your Family Safe
You want to fully protect your loved ones when you’re gone. That’s what estate planning does. Learn why you need a Will and how the probate process works. Also, how setting up a Trust can help when family affairs are complicated.
Your Will Makes It Clear.
If your wishes are not legally stated, they won’t be followed. You need a good Will. Don’t leave it up to the courts to decide how your estate is distributed because that will involve costly arrangements.
Not having a Will will lengthen the probate process and distress your family. It includes having a bonded administrator appointed for you, a stranger, to be the executor. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will be hired to protect children under the age of 19.
Prepare a legal, witnessed, Last Will and Testament to give clear instructions about your estate. It simplifies the probate process and reduces expenses.
Probate Makes It Legal.
With or without a Will, your estate must go through the probate process. Financial institutions want to be sure that the Will is valid, and that the executor is authorized to act on behalf of your estate before disbursing your assets.
Your Last Will and Testament must be confirmed to be valid by the Courts after your death. In the case of multiple documents, probate can address legal challenges. Such as whether you were mentally capable of writing your last will. This can happen if it was written shortly before your death and your heirs want to challenge it being the correct and most recent will.
Your executor will be confirmed and given legal power to act or, if they are not available, your alternate will be appointed to act as the estate’s administrator. So, it is wise to name two individuals in your will. Probate fees will be calculated based on your estate’s market value.
There are two ways probate may be avoided or minimized. Both strategies simplify wealth transferral. Ask your Financial Advisor whether one might work for you.
The first is when an asset is held jointly with someone, such as a spouse. As long as the asset is in “Joint name With Rights of Survivorship”, the asset can transfer to the survivor with no probate and no tax impact.
The second way is by establishing a living Trust.
A Trust Enhances Protection.
Unlike the terms of a Will, a trust is a legal arrangement. So, it can’t be challenged through probate. Your assets, such as real estate, investments, and businesses, are legally separated from yourself and administered by a trustee.
A trust offers protection for young, disabled, or vulnerable family members. It can safeguard your estate from destruction through the actions of an impulsive heir.
The terms of a court-accepted will are public knowledge, but the details of a trust remain confidential. This is beneficial for family businesses and other private financial matters. There are costs to set up trusts and administer them, which you need to consider.
There are two types of trusts. A testamentary trust is specified in your will. It provides family protection and is activated upon your death. All assets are subject to probate fees and estate taxes. Its income is taxed at a graduated rate.
A living, or ‘inter vivos’ trust, offers valuable estate planning. It passes property to your heirs while you are still around to oversee this. It may trigger some taxes now when you transfer the assets to the Trust, however, it does bypass the cost and delays of probate and also estate taxes. The result is a smooth transfer of wealth.
The income and capital gains earned in a living trust are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate. However, with good planning the trust can pass this income down to the beneficiaries, to be taxed at their own, often lower, marginal rate.
Protect your loved ones by carefully planning for the transfer of your wealth. Your Financial Advisor can help you develop estate planning that will bring maximum benefit to your heirs.