Estate Planning Attorney in Naples, FL
You have worked hard all of your life to make sure that you and your family will be secure. You are just beginning to wonder what will happen when you are not around anymore. You want your loved ones to be provided for, you do not want anyone to be taken advantage of, and you want to make sure that things go smoothly with the least amount of confusion.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning entails making an arrangement to distribute a person’s wealth and property after their death. Anything of value that a person owns is considered part of their “estate.” Although it is hard to think about one’s own mortality, it is important to make your wills and trusts as airtight as possible. You will need the assistance of a good estate planning attorney in Naples FL.
Why Should You Have a Plan?
Unfortunately, when a person becomes incapacitated or dies, there are always people and entities that will feel entitled to a portion of the estate. From funeral homes to undeserving distant relatives, and people claiming to have claims against past obligations, there will be those who will try to capitalize on the death.
You may think a will is enough, and it is an essential factor, but an estate plan covers more than just a will alone. In addition to documenting the distribution of your wealth, it can also save your heirs money on their taxes. Whether you need an estate plan or just a will depends on how much money is left in the estate at the time of death and on the financial circumstances of your heirs. However, there are some estate planning measures that should benefit anyone.
One thing that may determine if you will need a will or an estate plan is whether or not there are any beneficiaries who are minor children. When an attorney writes a will, a guardian will be appointed for any minor children of the decedent. However, if the child is to inherit money, there would have to be an adult conservator of the funds until the child turns 18 or 21. Even if you believe that the proceeds of your current estate are inconsequential, it’s often prudent to have a plan in place as you grow your wealth.
If there are several different asset classifications involved in a child’s inheritance, it is important that the instructions in the will are consistent with the instructions that you have given to the various fiduciaries that are handling the funds.
Reducing Probate Time
Another reason to use an estate planning attorney is to reduce the amount of time a will must spend in probate. Probate is a process where a person’s wealth is distributed to their heirs and their creditors. Someone who is named in the will is appointed executor of the estate and that person is responsible for filing the paperwork. The decedent's will is validated and any property that they have is appraised. Their outstanding debts and taxes are paid, and the rest of the money and property goes to the heirs.
If you have an estate plan, you may be able to bypass some of those taxes. You can put a beneficiary’s money into an IRA, and that money could be distributed over the course of the beneficiary’s lifetime. If the beneficiary is a child or grandchild, the savings could be great, because they would continue to have tax-deferred or tax-free income for quite a long time.
An estate planning attorney can also help you figure out how to leave money to your favorite charities in your will. You can establish a Charitable Lead Trust which is an irrevocable trust designed to give money to charities for a certain amount of time, and then eventually distribute the remaining money to beneficiaries. You can also form a Charitable Remainder Trust which starts an income stream to your beneficiaries and gives the rest to charities. Either of these two types of trusts may significantly lower your capital gains tax and allow you and your beneficiaries to claim tax deductions.
No matter if you have a small amount of money or a small fortune to distribute, it is a good idea to have a living will. A living will allows you to tell your loved ones what to do if you are ever incapacitated. A living will can include “do not resuscitate” orders (DNR) and other end-of-life instructions.
What Happens if you Don’t have an Estate Plan?
If you don’t have an estate plan, all of your money and property will end up in probate and much of your money will go to pay outstanding debts. Some of those debts may not be legitimate, but without an estate plan, nefarious companies may try to get their hands on your wealth. Your estate may end up paying out more money than it really has to in taxes, and your beneficiaries will end up not getting the money that you worked so hard to leave behind.
How an Attorney Can Help
Planning an estate is a complicated business and it would be almost impossible to do without an experienced wills attorney in Naples, Florida. Our dedicated team of trust, will, and estate planning professionals can help make sure your money goes where you want it to go once you’re unable to use it.