Proper estate planning officially decides how your estate is handled should you suddenly pass away or become incapacitated. Having these documents in place can bring you great peace of mind, especially if you have young children or a spouse that you want to ensure will be taken care of. It also eliminates the need for probate and a probate lawyer, which can result in outcomes the decedent didn’t intend.
Although a will is an important part of an estate planning portfolio, it is just one part. Additionally, estates that only have a will are often still required to pass through probate, which can be taxing on family members and friends who just want to move on. A well-executed estate plan will also contain a trust, a Durable Power of Attorney for financial decisions, and a Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions.
A living trust is the ideal protection for your family if you have real property or valuable personal property. Trusts are not required to pass through the probate process, so surviving family members are spared the intrusion of probate and having their lives displayed to the world. It also spares them from the need to hire a lawyer, who may work on a contingency basis for a percentage of the estate’s value.
When done properly, estate planning has very few drawbacks, if any at all. In fact, if you choose your trustees wisely, there is very little risk involved in the process or outcome. Although the initial cost of the estate planning documents may be higher, the peace of mind they bring as well as the savings as compared to probate, means your family will be even more financially protected when the unforeseen occurs.