No one likes to think about the end of their life, but it can happen before you expect it. Will your spouse, children, and other family members be provided for, or will they be fighting in court for years over what's left of your estate? The more money, assets, and property you have, the greater your need for an estate plan.
Your estate plan is a complete layout of everything you want to happen when you pass away. Making arrangements and putting everything in writing now will ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly in the future. You will also ensure the facilitation of the distribution of your property and assets so that your beneficiaries can inherit your estate with ease. It's important to check your estate plan regularly to ensure it reflects your wishes as you age.
Leave A Will
A will is one of several vital estate planning tools. It is a written statement that instructs your survivors to finalize your affairs and distribute your wealth after you pass away. It's also a court procedure, meaning that it is public record.
What happens when you don't create a will? This is called “intestacy.” Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will. When this occurs, state law will dictate how your assets are distributed. You should be aware that state law may distribute your assets in a manner that is inconsistent with your intentions, so having a valid Will in place to express your intentions and pass your assets to your beneficiaries in line with those intentions can be crucial.
Create A Trust
Several things can happen between the time you create a will and the day you pass away. One way to protect your assets and preserve them for your children is establishing a trust. You can use your will to create a testamentary trust or you can create a revocable living trust.
Like a will, a trust helps you pass on your property and assets to subsequent generations. You may be able to avoid court or attorney fees after establishing a trust, and your property can be immediately and directly passed to your named beneficiaries.
With a trust, your heirs can bypass probate court and protect their privacy. There may be many advantages of establishing a trust, including:
- Helping your heirs eliminate or reduce their tax liability
- Safeguarding your property from divorce or creditors
- Allowing you to designate funds or property for a specific use
Review Your Beneficiaries
Do you know who your beneficiaries are? If you aren't sure, you should review the people you have listed to inherit your bank, retirement, and other accounts. You might be surprised to discover that you forgot to make an important change. Many assets, such as retirement accounts, will pass onto the designated beneficiary regardless of what you request in your will or other estate documents.
If you were previously married and your former spouse is still a beneficiary on an insurance policy or retirement account, he or she could automatically receive it upon your death. If this is not what you want to occur, be sure to make the necessary change.
Any property held jointly with a right of survivorship will automatically transfer to the survivor upon your death. Review and update these as well. An estate planning attorney in Wisconsin can help you maintain your estate plan so that everything is as it should be.
Don't Leave Your Estate Planning To Chance
Drafting a will is a good place to start, but it doesn't end there. It's important to review your will and other estate documents periodically. Talk to a Wisconsin elder law and estate planning lawyer to secure your wishes. Contact Heritage Law Office for a free consultation or call 414-253-8500 for more information.