Estate Planning: An Introduction

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This world is full of uncertainty, and this is vastly evident when it comes to the management and operation of one’s wealth after he has died. Estate planning rids the individual off the worries about future plans. Thus, estate planning basically is a preemptive analysis of one’s financial situation, that allows them to provide a gateway for their loved ones after they die. This is one of the most reasonable steps that anyone can take in assuring that the future of his family as well as his wealth and property is kept safe. This includes dealing with the personal affairs, the allocation of property, the security of minor children, payment of taxes and even the arrangement of funeral logistics and costs.

An Estate itself consists of the following properties:
• bank accounts
• real estate
• any kind of life insurance policies
• personal properties like jewelries and cars
• other securities like stocks

All the above property will fall under an estate and could be subject to estate tax or probate at the time of your death. No matter the age, estate planning can be extremely helpful and helps give you a sense of relieve as you will not have to worry about your family or beneficiaries after your death

Estate planning accomplishes the following objectives:

• Identifies the family members or those people who are to specifically receive your property after your death.
• Ensure that those who are to receive your property, do actually receive it.
• Provide strategies, like bank accounts with payable on death beneficiaries or living trusts, to ensure that your property avoids unnecessary probate costs and tax liability.
• Allocate which assets will be used to pay for estate tax liability.
• Provide specific instructions for your funeral.

Estate planning is not only for elderly people or wealthy people. Estate planning also saves your family from legal battles, legal fees for probate, and family fights. It provides clear instructions and a map for how you want your property distributed. By default, everyone has an estate plan. Florida has defined rules on how your assets will be distributed after your death. If you die without a will, Florida considers you an intestate decedent. However, sometimes intestacy laws provide a plan of distribution that is not what you want. It is important to check with an estate planning attorney with respect to second wife issues, children from a previous marriage, adopted children, and other common family scenarios.

There are multiple different types of will and trusts in estate planning. As a general statement, a will provides for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death in any manner you choose. Your will cannot, however, govern the disposition of properties that is beyond your sole authority like joint property, life insurance, retirement plans and employee death benefits, unless, of course if they are payable to your estate. There are simple wills, testamentary trust wills, and pour over wills, all of which have different degrees of complexity and can be utilized to achieve a wide range of family and tax objectives.

Besides providing the intended disposition of your property to your spouse, children etc., your will can accomplish many other important objectives:
• You may designate a guardian for your minor child or children
• You may designate an executor of your estate in your will and eliminate the need for a bond
• You may choose to acknowledge or otherwise provide for a child in whom you have an interest, or an elderly parent, or other individuals.
• If you are a custodian for the assets of a child under the Uniform Gift (or Transfers) to Minors Act, you may designate your successor custodian and avoid the expense of a court appointment.

All of these issues are just some of complexities in dealing with estate planning. However, the alternative in not creating an estate plan can be very costly for your children and your family. Contact Bauer Law Office P.A. to discuss your estate planning needs.

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