What Is Estate Planning?
Whether you realize it or not, you have an estate. It consists of everything you own from checking accounts to an old sofa. Regardless of what you own, you don’t want your hard earned money and assets to go to waste. To prevent your lifelong wealth from spending months in probate or even going to people you would never give it to, you need a solid estate plan. Estate planning is arranging, during your lifetime, for the management and disposal of your assets upon death. The planning at its core is determining where your assets will go upon your death. However, good estate planning is much more than that. It should also do the following:
- Include instructions for your care and financial affairs if you become incapacitated before you die.
- Include arrangements for disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury.
- Long-term care insurance to pay for your care in the case of an extended illness or injury, and life insurance to provide for your family at your death.
- Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, incapacity, or death.
- Name a guardian for your minor children’s care.
- Provide for family members with special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.
- Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need protection from creditors or in the event of divorce.
- Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees, which may include funding assets into a living trust, completing or updating beneficiary designations, or otherwise aligning your assets with your estate plan.
Your estate plan can be as intricate or minimal as you make it. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you do not need to do any estate planning if you aren’t rich or elderly. That is not true. You don’t have to be rich or elderly to need estate planning. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long we will live, illnesses and accidents happen to people of all ages. If you have assets, such as a house, vehicles, or collectables, you would benefit from estate planning. People put off estate planning because they think they do not own enough, they are not old enough, it will be costly or confusing. They will have plenty of time to do it later. They do not know where to begin or who can help them, or they just do not want to think about it. Then when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces. Another misconception is that an estate plan is permanent. Estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should review and update your plan as your family and financial circumstances (and the relevant laws) change over your lifetime. As your life changes, so does your estate plan. Marriages, divorces, births, and deaths, just to name a few, all effect your estate plan and are a signal that your plan should be updated.
Estate Planning Lawyers In The Woodlands, TX
Cost Of No Estate Planning
Imagine you or a loved one passed away leaving assets behind to be distributed. Would you prefer to have made the decision yourself or would you prefer to have the courts distribute your assets? Nobody knows your wishes for your family like you. Estate planning is much more important than people realize because you ARE going to pass away. If you don’t create your estate plan, the state of Texas will do it for you.
The Michels Law Firm Provides Full Comprehensive Estate Planning And Probate Services, Including The Preparation Of:
- Last Will and Testament
- Advise on Marital Property Issues
- Estate Administration (Probate)
- Disability Planning
- Business and Corporate Succession Planning
- Will Contests
- Family Settlement Agreements
- Special Needs Trusts
- Gift, Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Minimization
Where Do I Start?
Once you have determined you want to move forward with your estate planning the first thing you need to do is take an inventory of all of your assets. Don’t leave anything out! Take into account items with intrinsic value, such as property, vehicles, and fine collectibles to Grandma’s diamond necklace or the hand carved mirror that Great Grandpa Eddie made that’s been in the family for years. Once you begin taking an inventory of your assets you’d be surprised what you come up with.
The next part may be a little more difficult. Think about if you passed away today what would your family need in your absence. Do you have children that would need additional care? Would you need to appoint a guardian for your children? Would you need to appoint a caregiver for a family member that you are the primary caregiver for? What can you do now to preserve your income for your family? These are the type of questions you’d ask yourself to ensure that your family’s needs are met even after your death.
The next step is to contact The Michels Law Firm to discuss your estate planning needs. Many times there are legal documents needed that would allow for your plan to be put into action. We will partner with you to create a plan.
There Are Countless Reasons Creating An Estate Plan Is Important, But The Top Reasons Include:
- Avoiding chaos / discord among those left behind
- Minimizing estate taxes
- Avoiding probate
- Protecting children from mismanaging their inheritance
- Asset protection for beneficiaries
- Asset protection for yourself
- Providing for a special needs family member
- Ensuring that philanthropic / charitable gifting goals are met
- Business formation and entity planning
- Coordination of beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement plan
- Recent marriage / divorce or other change in personal life circumstances