Planning your estate is an important step to take to ensure that your family, friends, and loved ones have a clear understanding of how your estate will be handled once you are no longer with them. Whether or not you realize it, the way that you execute your estate can cause serious issues for your family when it comes time to sort through your wishes and work through your plans. Something as simple as a single unclear sentence, or a seemingly innocuous detail that you omitted, either on purpose or by accident, can cause serious problems for your family.
While it may seem simple enough to find estate forms on the internet, fill in the blanks, and move on with your life with peace of mind, this is most certainly not the case. Your estate, whether you have significant financial assets or not, must be perfectly clear and in adherence with Washington laws so that it can be executed smoothly. In order to make sure that your estate will avoid confusion, arguments, and the possibility of your assets being distributed in a way that you did not intend, it is extremely important that you work with an estate planning attorney. There are many parts of an estate that must be written in exact accordance to your circumstances, and the best way to ensure that this happens is to work with a professional.
Read more below about the importance of working with an estate planning attorney in Washington, and contact Ken Schneider immediately to schedule a consultation. During this consultation, you will be able to learn more about how your specific needs can be met and your estate can be custom-tailored to your needs and your situation in order to leave your family with a clear plan for your assets once you are no longer with them.
What Is Estate Planning?
Your estate is everything that you own, from bank accounts to property, as well as your personal possessions and retirement funds. In many cases, an individual’s estate is fairly complicated even if their life seems to be relatively simple, meaning that as they are planning on how to distribute their estate to family and loved ones that they leave behind. In its simplest form, estate planning entails writing very clear, and legally binding, instructions on what to do with your estate.
While this may seem easy enough, there are a lot of different parts of estate planning that you will need to understand, and will need to make sure that each stipulation and decision that you make and insert into your estate plan is legally binding and clear. Unfortunately, confusing or unclear wills can cause serious problems for families after the loss of a parent.
Writing Your Will
Your will, or your “last will and testament,” lays out the legal guidelines for how you want your assets distributed and your property allocated. Any property or assets that are not addressed in your will may ultimately be a source of disagreement and contention between those that you leave behind, so it is important that your will goes into detail about everything that will need to be distributed after your death. Your heirs will be able to use your will to determine how to handle your affairs, take responsibility for any minor children or dependents or pets, allocate your assets and property, and make sure that everyone is addressed as you wish.
If you do not leave behind a will, it is likely that the government or the courts will ultimately decide how your assets will be distributed, which is typically a poor outcome for everyone involved. The best way to avoid future conflict is to work with an attorney who is experienced in writing wills and ensuring that they are clear, comprehensive, and adhere to the legal requirements of estate planning in Everett, Washington.
Developing a Trust
In some cases, you may determine that an appropriate step to take is to arrange a trust in order to ensure that your property and assets are properly managed for your beneficiaries. A trust is typically managed by an individual or group known as trustees, who hold the titles to the properties or assets in order to best benefit those who you have determined to be beneficiaries of the trust, such as children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.
By choosing to arrange a trust, you are able to take complete control over how and when your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries and can entrust the executor with maintaining your legacy in ways that a will would not necessarily make certain. In addition, a trust may protect certain assets or investments so that they remain productive or beneficial in a way that a will also would not be able to ensure, such as leaving a financial professional in charge of income-generating assets. Typically, a trust means that your beneficiaries will have access to your assets sooner than they would if you only left a will.
Designating Power of Attorney
In addition to writing a will and arranging a trust, you will also need to consider who will take your power of attorney when you are no longer able to make decisions on your own. The person or the organization that you choose to take the power of attorney for you will have complete control over your legal concerns, so it is important that you are exceptionally clear with your expectations of their actions, and that you trust this party to act on behalf of your best interests and your beneficiaries best interests.
Determining who will have power of attorney is a step that you should take when you are of sound mind, and that their expectations are made clear when you make this decision. This big step is something that Ken Scheider can help you with to make sure that you are leaving your family and loved ones with the best possible support when you are no longer able to provide for them in your current capacity.
Why Is Estate Planning So Important?
Estate Planning Avoids Conflict
As you can probably note from the previous section, planning your estate is essentially the way that you will ensure that you have control over your legacy when you have departed. In addition, by leaving a clear will, trust, and/or power of attorney will mean that you are helping those that you leave behind navigate your wishes clearly and simply, and avoiding conflict at the same time.
When there are unclear terms in a will or disagreements between family members and the trustee or
A Strong Estate Reduces Tax Burdens
In addition to avoiding conflict, a well-executed estate will leave your beneficiaries with the smallest possible tax burden. Inheritance taxes can account for a significant amount of money that you wanted to go to your loved ones, and will instead end up in the pockets of the Internal Revenue Service if you do not work to ensure that your transfer goes smoothly and with minimal tax obligations attached to them. With the help of an Everett estate planning attorney, you can make sure that your loved ones get what they deserve, and that you minimize the potentially-enormous tax obligations that come with inheritances in the United States.
In terms of the best option to avoid tax burdens, an irrevocable trust is typically the best option to transfer your wealth to your beneficiaries, but it requires that you forfeit all power over making changes to the terms of the trust once it has been enacted. Essentially, this means that you have taken the assets and properties out of your ownership and given them to the trust. If this is not the option you are interested in, then your other option is a living trust—a trust that you can change and alter as you see fit.
Estates Give You Control Over Your Assets
Most importantly, properly planning your estate gives YOU the control that you deserve over your own assets and properties, and ensures that the people who benefit from your hard work and legacy are the people that deserve to benefit from it because of your wishes. You have worked hard for your wealth, assets, and properties no matter how substantial or relatively small they may be, and it is therefore understandable that you do not want matters of your assets to be determined by people who do not have your wishes or best interests in mind. This is why a clear, legal, and comprehensive estate plan will protect your property as well as your peace of mind.
Contact Us Now To Begin Planning Your Estate
The sooner you begin to plan your estate, the sooner you can move forward knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of as you see fit once you have moved on from this life. Partnering with an experienced estate planning attorney like Ken Schneider is one of the most important steps that you can take to begin this process in a painless, smooth, and trustworthy manner.
We look forward to working with you through this critical process to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of once you are gone.