It’s easy to see why most people put off estate planning. After all, life holds so much wonder, excitement, and adventure that who wants to waste time thinking about their death? Death is scary to many for understandable reasons, and it can be depressing just to think about your loved ones that you will one day leave behind.
Bivens & Associates is a law firm in Scottsdale that specializes in elder law, estate planning, and special needs law. Our caring and compassionate estate planning attorneys are here every step of the way to help you through the sometimes complicated world of estate planning. Planning your estate is a must in today’s world where if you don’t, the courts could step in, leaving your heirs with much less than intended. In this blog post, we’ll go over how to even begin the estate planning process. Contact our estate planning attorneys today!
What is An Estate?
Many people get hung up on the word “estate,” which contributes to people putting off estate planning. For some, estates are sprawling acres of land with a huge mansion in the center that has white columns out front, balconies, and is owned by the wealthy.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If you own anything, from a car to your house and cat, you have an estate. Your estate is everything you own, no matter how large or small. Estate planning is where you plan for the transfer of everything you own (your estate) upon your death. It’s the legal process, the recording in writing of your wishes when you pass. With estate planning attorneys, such as Bivens & Associates in Scottsdale, we have three overarching goals, in addition to others that you may have:
- Ensuring your wishes are carried out upon death for your belongings.
- Ensuring you pay the least amount of taxes to all government entities, including federal, state, and local taxes.
- Ensuring guardians are named in the event of minor children.
These are just the three overarching goals. Depending on your situation, estate planning may also include:
- Planning for the care of any special needs family members or others in your guardianship.
- Transferring your business if you are a business owner.
- Providing detailed instructions for the care of your minor children, such as religion, values, etc.
- Provide for any pets you may have.
- Provide instructions for if you become incapacitated before death.
As you can see, estate planning has so many contingencies that it can be very overwhelming for people. Here at Bivens & Associates in Scottsdale, our mission is to help you plan for every detail after you’re gone so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Contact us today for a free consultation!
AN ESTATE PLAN BEGINS WITH A WILL OR LIVING TRUST
To start your estate planning, you’ll need a will and/or a trust. A will states, well, your will and states who you want to inherit your property and provides for guardianship of minor children. A will has an executor to make sure your directives are abided by and that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. A trust is where you entrust your property to someone or to an organization. The trustee, or the person appointed to oversee your trust, manages the property on behalf of your beneficiaries.
Living trusts avoid probate, which is the process that the court uses to make sure your will is valid. The problem with probate is that it can be a very long and time-consuming process, which can be a burden to your heirs. However, a will is still vital if you have minor children.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
If you don’t have a will or a trust, no one knows your wishes after your passing. Thus, a court with a judge whom you’ve never met and has no vested interest in the life of your heirs will decide. It can be a very long and very trying process for your heirs. It can also be costly. Bivens & Associates recommends that you have a will at the bare minimum before you pass away to make it easier on those whom you leave behind.
While a will and/or a trust is a start to the estate planning process, Bivens & Associates in Scottsdale notes that there is so much more. Another thing to consider is the importance of naming your beneficiaries on things such as bank accounts, securities, life insurance policies, 401k, and any other payable-upon-death assets you have. This is because these assets do not go through the probate process. For instance, in the case of home ownership, your spouse automatically gets the home with a right of survivorship and/or his or her name on the deed.
Bivens & Associates cannot emphasize the importance of updating your will, trust, and beneficiaries regularly. For instance, if you have an aunt listed as a beneficiary to your 401k, and now, 20 years later you’re married and have kids, if you died, your aunt would get that money (which is probably considerable after 20 years!) instead of your children. This is so very important because so many people forget to do this crucial step and then they pay for it.
HOW BIVENS & ASSOCIATES CAN HELP WITH YOUR ESTATE PLANNING NEEDS IN SCOTTSDALE
Bivens & Associates in Scottsdale has the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help you begin estate planning. We can help you impartially make the right decisions for your family from an outside perspective. We lay out the fact so you can then make the sometimes difficult decisions wills, trusts, and beneficiaries entail. For seniors, we also look at what will be best as you age and if you’ll have to enter a long-term care facility. We can help advise on what you will need for your care, as well as help with preservation of assets. We are experts in elder law as well, which puts us in a unique role to help. From financial powers of attorney to procedures in case you become incapacitated, we can help. Contact our top-notch estate planning attorneys today!