Common Questions About Estate Planning
Are you prepared for what the future holds? By preparing an estate plan, you can secure a future for you and your loved ones. At Smith Slusky, you will find dedicated and experienced legal counsel from an Omaha estate planning attorney. Smith Slusky provides trustworthy legal advice and you can feel confident that he will secure your wishes in a comprehensive estate plan. With over a decade of experience, Smith Slusky can secure your assets and property after you pass and ensure that your belongings are distributed according to your wishes. The firm handles a wide range of estate planning, probate and tax law matters, so call today and learn how Smith Slusky can help you.
What is estate planning and why is it important?
Estate planning is the process of putting your affairs in order before you pass, so that your wealth is preserved and your loved ones are taken care of. By creating an estate plan, you are able to maximize the benefits that your assets and property are able to provide and pass it on to beneficiaries. Estate planning is also a viable way to reduce or eliminate your estate taxes so your loved ones aren't left paying the debt. When plan out your estate, your loved ones may be able to skip the headache of the probate process altogether, saving them time and money.
What happens if I die without leaving a will?
A will, is a legal document that leaves specific instructions as to how you would like your assets and property distributed once you pass. If you were to die without a valid will in effect, then the property would have to go through the probate process and the court would be in charge of appointing an estate administrator who would appropriate your belongings according to the state laws. When this happens, there is no way to say that your loved ones receive the provisions and the property that you would have wanted them to have. In order to ensure that your assets are dispersed according to your wishes, be sure to speak to an estate planning lawyer about creating a will.
What does an estate plan include?
In order to sufficiently meet the needs of your family, your estate plan must be comprehensive so nothing falls through the cracks. A complete estate plan would include a will or a trust, instructions to your power of attorney, a written agreement regarding the status of your assets and property and also final orders explaining your wishes.
What is a trust?
A trust is a complex legal document that incorporated an agreement amongst three people in regards to the assets of an estate. With a trust there is a trustor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. The trustor is the person who created the agreement and the trustee is the person that they appoint to hold onto the legal title of the assets. The beneficiary is the person who will inherit those assets from the deceased. In some cases, the trustor will also serve as the trustee or they will appoint a bank to be the trustee in the agreement.
What are the benefits of a trust?
By establishing a trust you and your loved one can benefit greatly first and foremost by avoiding the probate process. Trusts have many other benefits to offer including tax saving, avoiding conservatorship, creditor protection, management over the distribution of assets and property, reduce or avoid death taxes and you can maintain privacy of the family's finances. A trust is able to meet the needs of nay estate, large or small, and it costs only a fraction of what the probate process expenses would be.
When should I have my estate plan reviewed by an attorney?
Some people create an estate plan and never touch it again. In reality, an estate plan is more of a temporary document because people change their minds a number of times and you should have your estate plan reviewed by an attorney approximately every two to three years. If you or a beneficiary becomes married, disabled, divorced or dies, then your estate plan will need to be adjusted. Also, if you or a beneficiary has a substantial change in net worth or the type of assets you have, then immediate alterations are necessary. Lastly, if you buy a business, move to another state, or the tax laws have changed, you will need an attorney to review your estate plan immediately.
What is estate administration?
When a loved one dies, there are always certain loose ends that need to be resolved and those issues are resolved in the estate administration process. During this time, the estate will need to be managed and the assets of the estate will be to be collected, their debts need to be paid, and the remaining assets and property need to be distributed- that is the state executor's job. Most of the time, estate administration is only necessary when someone dies without a will, or is legally intestate.
Are there any other methods to avoid the probate process?
The one main goal with estate planning and establishing a will or a trust, is so that your loved ones can avoid the probate process once you pass. That process typically takes about 10-14 months on average and the assets are inaccessible to the beneficiaries until everything is resolved. There are however, a few other way to accomplish probate avoidance, other than a living trust. Some other alternatives you can consider include, joint occupancy title, bank account trusts, life insurance earnings, retirement profits such as 401Ks, retirement plans, revocable grant deeds, communal property title and a pay on death accounts. Speak with an Omaha estate planning attorney today to find out if any of these options are right for you.
Why do I need an estate planning attorney?
When dealing with the future of your finances, your investments, your assets and your property, you don't want to entrust your case to just anyone. Your estate planning attorney should be fully competent of the property and probate laws of your state and be fully knowledgeable in the drafting of important legal documents such as a trust or living will. The estate planning field is complex involving tax issues, probate laws and complicated legal documents. The language of these documents is also crucial because if it not considered legally sound, it can be disputed in court after you pass and someone may try to go after parts of your inheritance that were not designated for them. That is why you need Smith Slusky on your side.
Can I establish a trust myself?
Writing a trust can be done many different ways, in fact there are probably books at the store which could explain how to compile one. The main downfall is that you are not going to receive the professional recommendation or trustworthy legal advice that an estate planning attorney could give you. An Omaha estate planning attorney could speak to you from an educated legal background and also speak from past experience of other estate cases that they have done. You also have to keep in mind the laws of the state in which you live. It is encouraged that you at least speak with a knowledgeable professional regarding your trust.