Far too many people are going through life without the appropriate estate planning documents in place. In many instances, they assume that this a simple matter that can be taken care of quickly and easily when they are senior citizens.
This type of misguided thinking can yield negative consequences in a number of different ways, but we find that people are motivated to take action when they are fully informed.
Our firm is very committed to the well-being of our neighbors in and around Mount Clemens, so we do everything possible to provide educational opportunities.
Over the coming weeks, we will be holding some informative estate planning seminars in a number of different locations. You should definitely be able to find a date that fits into your schedule, and the seminars are being offered free of charge. Let’s look at some of the topics that are typically covered in our seminars.
Last Will vs. Living Trust
A lot of individuals assume that a last will is the right vehicle of asset transfer for people that are not multimillionaires. In fact, this is simply not the case.
First, you should understand the fact that a last will is not administered in a vacuum. The executor or personal representative would be required to admit the will to probate. This is a legal process that comes with a number of different drawbacks.
The inheritors that are named in a will that is being probated must play a lengthy waiting game. Even if there are no particular complications, the process will take somewhere in the vicinity of eight months to a year to run its course.
No inheritances can be distributed during this interim, and most people would like their loved ones to receive their bequests in a more timely manner.
There are also a number of different expenses that accumulate during probate. The executor is entitled to payment, and in many cases, an attorney will be engaged, so there are legal fees.
Court costs will enter the picture as well, and the executor must liquidate property, so there are appraisal and liquidation expenses. Other incidentals will invariably add to the red ink here and there.
At the end of the day, a significant amount of money can go out the window during probate. It is all coming out of the pockets of the people that are in line for inheritances.
You may have read about the way that celebrities that have passed away distributed their resources. Have you ever wondered why the media would have access to this information? The answer is that these estates passed through the probate process.
This is a public proceeding, so anyone that has an interest can access probate records to find out what happened. The loss of privacy is disconcerting in a general sense, but this information could cause problems among family members and others.
As you can see, the utilization of a last will is not as simple as it may seem to be on the surface. To avoid all of these drawbacks, you could choose to use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan.
There is no reason to be concerned about loss of control, because you have the power of revocation; if you want to, you can simply dissolve the trust and take back direct personal possession of the property.
If you establish a revocable living trust, you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your passing, and your heirs would be added as the beneficiaries.
After you are gone, the trustee would follow your instructions and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. The probate court would not be involved, so all of the negatives that we looked at above would be avoided.
A significant percentage of seniors become unable to handle all of their own affairs toward the end of their lives. Alzheimer’s disease is a leading culprit, but there are other causes of incapacity.
When you are planning your estate, you can account for these eventualities by including legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney. With s durable power of attorney for health care, you can empower someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, and you can include a durable financial power of attorney as well.
Reserve Your Seat Today!
These are a couple of the topics that our estate planning attorneys address at our seminars, but there are others. Once again, the seminars are absolutely free to attend, but we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat. You can visit our seminar page to obtain details and registration information.