Only about two in five adults in the United States have a will or living trust. This means that many will eventually have their assets distributed by the state, or their families may end up in prolonged battles over the future of the estate. A simple way to avoid this is by starting the estate planning process early and by having a trusted real estate attorney to walk you through the process. Most people want to put their assets in order but simply “haven’t gotten around to it.” Here are the top three reasons that you should “get around to it” today.
Protect your Assets
You may assume that estate taxes will automatically diminish your family’s inheritance, or that creditors will end up seizing a large percentage of your assets. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. You’ll want to consult with a real estate attorney (or, in some cases, a tax attorney as well) to discuss setting up a trust to protect your assets, but there are multiple ways to ensure that your legacy is protected and a trusted family executor oversees your assets.
Protect your Children
This is multi fold. On the one hand, you’ll want to put together a will outlining who will become the guardian of any underage children in your care. On the other hand, you can protect children from mismanaging an inheritance by selecting another family member to oversee their trust. You can also give your children access to their trust once they reach a certain age. This ensures that your money is used wisely and that your children remain in the proper physical and financial care after you have passed away.
About three in five individuals look into estate planning just to avoid probate. The process includes an attorney (such as a real estate attorney) proving before a court that your will is valid after you have passed away. It’s a public process by which your assets are distributed, debts are paid, and property is appraised. In addition to putting your whole financial history on display, the probate process can rack up legal fees–on average, costing about 5% of the estate’s total value. Working with a real estate lawyer in advance saves survivors and loved ones from having to acquaint themselves with the tedious intricacies of probate law later.
After you get your affairs in order, you should have peace of mind knowing that your property and assets are protected after your death. Don’t wait until you are infirm or have a short timeline to protect your legacy. If you continuously say that you’ll “get around to” planning your estate, you never will.