VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Limit taxation and the potential for argument with an estate plan

It's easy to ignore the need for an estate plan. You're busy and it doesn't seem that urgent, right? Yet we all know that we could end up needing an estate plan without warning.

One thing that might motivate you to take care of the issue is to understand the benefits you are providing to your loved ones. Not only could you save them money by limiting unnecessary taxes, but you could also save them heartache and disputes. You could even keep your loved ones from squandering what you leave them.

Make no mistake: Most people need an estate plan, not just the wealthy. If you have a house, a 401(k)/403(b), an IRA or a life insurance policy, you will be doing your heirs a big favor by designating them as beneficiaries and setting up a will and/or trust.

For some accounts, setting up a beneficiary is sufficient as long as you keep that designation current. For things like your home, a vacation property or personal assets, you will need a will or trust. And, although you can find forms for these online, it's unwise to rely on them. The advice of an estate planning attorney is not as cheap as an online form but it is likely to pay for itself -- perhaps many times over, depending on your circumstances. Good advice can save you a lot in unnecessary taxes and probate costs.

It's true that most estates are not subject to the federal estate tax, although some are. However, many states -- including Kentucky -- have either estate or inheritance taxes that you will need to take into account.

Creating a trust is often a good place to start

Done properly, placing your property in a trust and leaving that trust to your heirs can save your loved ones a great deal of money and stress by limiting probate. Assets in trusts generally need not be probated. Trust assets are also taxed differently from those left through a will. And, a trust may shield assets from your loved ones' creditors during bankruptcy.

Many people create estate plans that include trusts, wills and non-probate accounts. An estate planning lawyer can help you determine the best strategy for the assets you have, your goals, and your concerns.

According to WealthCounsel's estate planning awareness survey, almost three-quarters of Americans find estate planning to be confusing. That may be why only about 40 percent have a will, and far fewer have a trust in place.

Don't procrastinate on setting up your estate plan. It's simply too important for your family. The first step is to have a conversation with an estate planning attorney about your assets, values and goals.

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