It's no secret that the estate planning process can be scary. It requires you to contemplate your own passing, and it forces you to take a hard look at your assets and your estate's financial health. This is enough stress to cause most people to procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. However, as we discussed in last week's post, dying without a will and other estate planning documents can have tremendous consequences, including undesired distribution of assets and excessive costs.
Previously on this blog we have discussed certain estate planning tools that can be utilized to address issues that are less often thought of during the estate planning process. While most people are familiar with wills and trusts and will use one or a combination of both of these to dictate how their estate will be distributed upon their death, these are not the only documents that are important when creating an estate plan. We have previously looked at the healthcare power of attorney, which names an individual to make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacitation. This week we briefly want to touch on the living will.
Many Arizonans put off estate planning until it's too late. There are many reasons this occurs, but one of the most prevalent is the fact that most people simply want their spouse and their children to inherit their estate. However, depending on the circumstances at hand, an individual who passes away without a will or other estate planning documents may have his or her assets distributed in a way that works counter to his or her intentions.
There are two major traditional estate planning vehicles that most people utilize: the will and the trust. Each has its own advantages, and many people utilize some combination of both. This week on the blog we want to take a closer look at wills and the benefits they can provide to those who use them.
Some people spend a lifetime saving and obtaining assets. When you boil it down, estate planning is about retaining control over your assets even after you pass away. For many Arizona residents, this means figuring out a way to best provide those assets to loved ones so that they can enjoy those assets for a long time to come. The most thought of, and perhaps the simplest, estate planning tool is the will. In short, a will lays out to whom assets will be left upon death. These documents can be as intricate as needed, but most of the time they are short and straightforward so as to avoid confusion and challenge later down the road.
Many Arizonans think of estate planning as a way to ensure that their loved ones will receive a fair share of estate assets upon their passing. While this is true in many instances, the beauty of estate planning is that it can be custom-tailored to fit one's unique desires. Therefore, if an individual wishes to stray away from a typical estate plan, then he or she can do so.
On their face, wills are relatively simple. However, their simplicity should not cloud the fact that they can have a significant impact on how an estate is distributed. This means that any minor mistake in this legal document can have tremendous consequences, including diverting assets to those whom a testator does not want to obtain them.
When it comes to creating a holistic estate plan, one challenge that Arizonans face is accurately identifying and valuating their assets. One reason this issue arises is that, over the course of a lifetime, an individual may simply forget about some of the assets that he or she has accumulated. With regard to valuation, certain items can be difficult to put a price on, which may make it difficult to determine how to distribute it upon one's death, as well as how heirs should handle it once received.
On its face, much of estate planning seems pretty self-explanatory and simple. Arizonans can even conduct a quick Internet search or visit their local book store and find a number of do-it-yourself and self-help resources that promise to help make estate planning easy. Although these resources may be helpful in educating you as to the basics of estate planning, in order to make a customized plan that is right for you it is wise to consult with an attorney who has years of experience handling estate planning issues. By doing so, you can decrease the risk of legal issues that could jeopardize the validity of your estate plan which could, in turn, threaten the financial well-being of your estate as well as your heirs and beneficiaries.
There are many legal tools available to Arizonans who are wanting to engage in estate planning. While many of these tools seem relatively easy to create, and there are even a number of self-help and do-it-yourself resources, these documents can actually raise significant legal issues when improperly handled. This is why it is always advisable to have an experienced legal professional assist in the drafting of these documents. Failing to do so could result in a lot of headache, heartache, time and money.