If you ask an attorney why you need an estate plan, he or she will probably respond, “So you can avoid probate.” But avoiding probate is not the only or most important reason. You should have an estate plan for the following reasons:
- Control Disposition of Assets. If you die without an estate plan, a court will distribute your property using a default scheme known as “intestacy,” which tries to mimic the average person’s desires. But because no two situations are alike, intestacy rarely produces results satisfactory to all people. By executing a Revocable Living Trust and a Will, you can state how, when and to whom your assets should be distributed.
- Name Guardian for Minor Children. A court must always be involved in naming a guardian over your minor children if you become incapacitated or die. But with a Will and a Durable Power of Attorney, you can state exactly whom you want the Court to appoint, and the court will likely honor your request. Why remain silent on something so important?
- Direct Medical and End-of-Life Care. If you become incapacitated without an estate plan, the courts will likely play a larger than desired role as to your medical care. With an Advance Health Care Directive, you can name an agent to make medical decisions for you, and you can state your desires as to whether your life should be artificially prolonged when there is little chance of recovery.
- Protect Property for Loved Ones after Death. With an estate plan, you can direct both to whom your property goes after your death and under what conditions. For example, you can provide that minor children not receive their inheritance upon turning 18 years old but rather be given access to it in limited degrees over time. You can also ensure assets in fact go to your children if your spouse remarries and then dies before the new spouse dies.
- Avoid Probate and Maintain Privacy. An estate plan can help avoid probate, keeping affairs private and limiting the potential for fraudulent claims and unnecessary challenges against the estate.
- Avoid Unnecessary Taxes. Although most modest estates are currently not subject to estate taxes, tax laws constantly change. Do you know if your estate will be subject to death taxes? Through asset analysis, gifting strategies, use of irrevocable trusts and other estate planning tools, you can transfer your wealth while limiting the taxes your estate might pay.
- Protect Assets before Death. Where appropriate, we can help you protect assets from creditor attacks while you are still alive through Utah’s Asset Protection Trust statute, through family LLCs, and other tools.
- Preserve Family Harmony. Your incapacity or death will be difficult enough for your family to deal with. The absence of clear instructions in an estate plan will compound your family’s stress and could lead to unnecessary conflict.
True, estate planning helps you avoid probate; but it does much more than that. It helps you take control, protect your family and preserve your financial legacy. You could rely on the state’s default schemes in case of incapacity or death, but why would you? Contact us today to put your affairs in order.
Tags: advance medical directive, asset distribution, asset protection, control, estate plan, estate planning, estate taxes, family harmony, guardian, guardian of minor children, guardianship, health care directive, instestacy, privacy, probate
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