Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying — Jean Cocteau
Estate planning should not be reserved for those who are dying or wealthy. In fact, estate planning can help you protect your love ones and it can make your last days more comfortable. This is why everyone should create an estate plan.
The purpose of estate planning is simply to transfer your assets as you so desire with specific attention to the needs of your beneficiaries at the lowest possible cost and taxes. While an attorney is not always necessary for the estate planning, it does make the process easier.
1. Organize your assets: Determine what your personal assets are including your property, savings, real estate, retirement plans and any life insurance policies. Make sure that you have all proper documentation for the assets that belong to your estate. Also, give some thought to what you anticipate inheriting from others as you craft your plan.
2. Create a will: Without a will, the state law determines who gets your property and a judge may decide who will raise your children. This should be signed, witnessed and notarized. A will is a legal document that:
3. Create a trust: Having a revocable (living) trust, streamlines the process of transferring assets to beneficiaries after your death and bypasses probate court in many instances. There are a variety of trust options, so it is important to understand each of them so that you can make a well-informed decision about setting up the right trust for you.
4. Understand estate-related taxes: While you may not have to deal with federal taxes depending on the value of your estate, your beneficiaries may have to complete tax-related paperwork as part of the administration of your estate.
5. Consider your insurance: Insurance is important during the estate planning process. You should understand how your insurance will affect your estate and consider different types of insurance such as life insurance, automobile and home owner’s insurance.
6. Store your Documents: Make sure your documents are easily accessible by your loved ones, attorney, or your executor. Some important documents include:
Will: A document that specifies the method to be applied in the management and distribution of his estate after his death and which appoints the person or persons who will carry out your wishes.
Estate: The term estate refers to the assets and liabilities owned by a particular person, especially at death prior to distribution by a will or trust. The term estate has several meanings, including “probate estate”, and “taxable estate”.
Property: Refers to the land (including structures and minerals) and personal property (automobiles, loans, cash, securities and insurance policies) owned by an individual.
Trust: Written set of instructions that direct management of property for the benefit of someone
Grantor/settlor: The individual who creates the trust, which will be transferred to the beneficiaries.
Beneficiary: The individual who inherits property from the grantor. This can be more than one person.
Trustee: The individual responsible for managing the trust on behalf of the decedent and for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Successor trustee: An individual who takes over the duties of the original trustee if needed.
Probate: The legal process used by the states to determine a decedent’s rightful heirs, property shares, and a means to transfer the title of the property. This can be a lengthy and time consuming process.
Power of attorney: The authority to act for another person in legal or financial matters during that person’s lifetime.
Estate transfer: The process by which property interests are legally transferred to another person.
The North Palm Beach Estate Planning Lawyers of Kitroser & Associates, welcome clients from the cities of West Palm Beach, Stuart, Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach, Jupiter, Tequesta, Juno Beach, Singer Island, Lake Park, Hobe Sound, Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, as well as all of Palm Beach County, Martin County and South Florida.
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