We know that many Americans procrastinate about getting a will or a trust done. Especially in this economy where people have a lot of challenges, an estate plan, even if desired, sometimes doesn’t work itself up to the top of one’s To Do List. What happens if you procrastinate about getting an estate plan?
Probate – Without a trust or a will, your estate will wind up in the probate court. Statutory fees will have to be paid to the probate attorney and the administrator of your estate. Probate is not private – anyone can view probate records – and the distributions to your heirs can be delayed for as much as a year and in some cases, longer.
Without a will or a trust, your surviving spouse may not inherit your entire estate. Your spouse will inherit all the community property but will only get 1/2 to 1/3 of your separate property. The remaining property will go to the children.
Minor children will not have guardians appointed. Without a designation of guardians for your minor children, the Court will have to appoint a guardian without any guidance from you as to your preference for the guardian or guidelines for raising the children.
Children may receive money outright and not be equipped to handle it. Without a trust setting forth increments for the distribution at various ages, children who are 18 will receive their money outright, all at once, which may not be a good idea for some young beneficiaries.
Special Needs Beneficiaries may lose their public assistance. If you have a child or other beneficiary who is on public assistance, inheriting money outright rather than into a special needs trust, may cause them to be disqualified from receiving those benefits.
Higher Estate Taxes – For those high net worth individuals, not having a trust can result in your heirs having to pay more estate taxes than necessary. Estate planning strategies like an A/B or A/B/C trust, irrevocable life insurance trusts, or other advanced techniques can avoid or reduce estate taxes.
Don’t procrastinate any longer. Contact us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation for a complimentary consultation to discuss your will or trust.