During our current economic climate, estate planning has become a hot topic. Indeed, last week, we analyzed several factors that may mean that one needs to craft an estate plan. And, this week, we will go over additional considerations.
The most talked about reason for an estate plan is one’s estate size. For single and young people, their estate size is such that they can likely just put a payable on death designation for their bank account and draft a living will and be done with estate planning for a bit. However, for those with a sizable estate, the stakes become much higher, especially for those who’s estate is valued above the estate tax exclusion. Last year, for a married couple, the estate tax exclusion was $11.58 million. With smart estate planning, couples can avoid estate taxes, even if their estates are over these thresholds.
Probate simply refers to the court proceeding that is needed to determine what happens to one’s assets after that person passes. Unfortunately, this process is mired in expenses and delays. In fact, probate and attorneys’ fees can quickly skyrocket, and for those without an estate plan, these fees can destroy an estate’s value. Plus, as the average probate process takes over a year, there is a substantial delay in the process that can cause further emotional harm to one’s family. A properly drafted estate plan though, can actually avoid the entire probate process.
Privacy concerns refers to both the probate process and potential family secrets. The probate process is not confidential, and creditors and relatives can challenge anything. Plus, as the process is not confidential, all of one’s private business is laid bare for all the public to see. Though, even if one avoids the probate process, there may still be family secrets that one wants to keep secret, which can be done through an estate plan.
Of course, part of an estate plan deals with one’s assets, but it also deals with what happens to one, should they become incapacitated. This includes life support, who should make medical decisions, etc. This, again, can be accomplished through an estate plan.
For Haddonfield, New Jersey, residents, it is clear that just about everyone needs an estate plan. Call an attorney today to ensure that one’s rights and wishes are protected.