Though it can be difficult to begin thinking about one’s own demise, careful planning now can help your family avoid significant time and expense later. RAWLINS | ASACK assists clients of all sophistication in the drafting of documents such as: Wills; Trusts; Deeds; Durable Powers of Attorney; Health Care Proxy’s; and Declarations of Homestead.
What is an Estate?
An Estate in its most essential form is everything you own. Home, cars, bank accounts, retirement benefits, benefits from employers, personal belongings, grandma’s chinaware and insurance policies. With that in mind, people often underestimate the actual size of their estates.
Why do Estate Planning?
The most common reason people think they need estate planning is to control who will receive their assets at their death. Though that is certainly one important reason to plan your estate, there are variety of other equally important benefits that accompany a good estate plan. In fact, doing an estate plan can be just as important for those things that may occur during a person’s life.
Who should have an Estate Plan?
Certainly, the older you get the more assets you accumulate and the more you begin to contemplate your lineage. This leads to a disproportionate number of estate planning clients in their 60’s and 70’s. However, people of all ages and demographics will benefit from a properly planned estate.
When to Plan?
Like insurance, there is no second chance. At the point in time something happens, it is too late.
Probate v. Non-Probate Assets
Probate assets are those assets that are titled in just your name at the time of your death. For example, a bank account in only your name, a home with a deed that lists just your name, your automobile and a retirement account and/or an insurance policy with no named beneficiary.
What happens with probate assets at your death?
Probate Assets are required to go through the Court Probate process at your death. That process takes time, costs money and defers some control of your estate to the Court. A very typical probate estate can take a year or longer. Filing fees alone (excluding attorney fees, personal representative fees and the value of your time) are in the hundreds of dollars.
Non-Probate assets are those assets with designated beneficiaries or held jointly with others. Examples of non-probate assets include but are not limited to, joint bank accounts, deeds held jointly with others (Joint Tenants or Tenants by the Entirety), retirement and/or insurance policies with named beneficiaries and assets held in trust.
What happens with non-probate assets at your death?
They are passed directly to the Joint Owner or Named Beneficiary. They pass outside of the Court Probate Process. What is often forgotten, is a non-probate asset of a spouse that passes to the other spouse outside of the Court process becomes a probate asset of the surviving spouse if not properly planned for.