Top Reasons You Should Begin Estate Planning Now
A common misconception exists that estate planning is reserved for the rich and elders. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Whether you are fresh out of high school or a member of our valued senior citizen class, the best time to create a well-defined estate plan is now. Young and old, our futures are uncertain and these are some of the reasons why you should begin the process of estate planning immediately.
Avoid Probate Court Issues
Whether it’s the wait, cost or the horror stories reported in the media, avoiding probate court ranks high on the list of reasons to work out an estate plan. As a caring family member, it’s important to spare loved ones having to make court appearances while still grieving your loss. Going through probate will also mean that a percentage of the wealth you left behind will be consumed by filing and attorney fees.
Consider that Florida is one of only a few states that sets probate attorney fees by statute. Beneficiaries can expect upwards of 3 percent of their inheritance to go to legal fees by law. If a case involves challenges, that figure can balloon.
Going through probate can also take as long as four months. If an estate is contested, it could take much longer. Creating a well-defined and legally-binding estate plan allows your loved ones to painlessly receive the gifts you meant for them.
Protect Your Loved Ones’ Inheritance
Having an estate plan in place can go a long way to protecting vulnerable family members after you pass. Minor children are particularly at risk because someone will likely step in and manage the wealth until they reach the age of majority.
You also know the adults in your life far better than a probate judge can from a few brief hearings. Some of them may be prone to poor financial decisions, lack the capacity to effectively manage assets or be subject to the influence of people around them. An estate plan can offset any uncertainty you have about the inheritance being squandered by designating a conservator.
A conservator of your choosing can be granted the power to manage the estate after you pass. This may mean paying bills, taxes and portioning out money to handle living expenses and the purchase of key assets. If you believe the best course is to keep the assets in a living will, the conservator could be directed to assist with key life expenses such as college tuition, purchasing a home or paying for a wedding. By creating an estate plan now, you have the ability to put trusted people in place.
Avoid Hard Feelings After You Pass
When a family member dies, those left behind experience heightened emotions from the loss. Grieving can take on many forms. It is sometimes surprising the attachments that friends and family members have developed to material objects.
In many cases, the monetary value of an heirloom has little significance compared to its memories. The connection between siblings, parents, children and those close to you are sometimes rooted in everyday items. A wedding band, book collection, rocking chair and other everyday items can carry profound personal significance.
Without a defined estate plan in place that outlines exactly who inherits these items, loved ones can engage in heated disagreements about what you would have wanted or who should have an object. Emotions run high after a loss and an estate plan is an opportunity for you to extend love after death by providing clarity.
Protect Loved Ones From Emotional Distress
When celebrities and public figures die, the media is quick to report on the value of their estate and the beneficiaries. That makes death an unwanted public spectacle that adds to emotional distress.
Estates that have high monetary values may also find their way into local news and on social media. It would be wise to avoid opening the process up to public scrutiny and commentary. Forget about coverage in the local Florida newspaper, imagine the horror of trending on Twitter or Facebook. Social media trolls can be absolutely brutal.
Failing to create an estate plan means the final distribution of your assets will be made through probate court. The process is fully open to the public and information is readily available for unsavory characters. Having an estate plan in place means loved ones receive the loving gifts who intended them to have in a quiet, private setting.
Contact An Experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney
Creating an estate plan is an act of love and kindness today that will help minimize the impact of your passing on those you leave behind. A thoughtful estate plan can provide security, privacy and streamline the inheritance process. At Yardley Law, our experienced legal team works closely with everyday Floridians to craft an estate plan that meets your unique interests.