When you think of November, you probably think of turkey, football, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and more. But, what you may not realize is that November is National Sleep Comfort Month. During this month, people talk about and discuss ways to improve their sleeping. Without an adequate amount of sleep, a person can experience some negative ramifications that affect their whole life. To sleep well, you need to not feel stressed. And there’s nothing more stressful than risking your property.
Luckily, we can help. Protecting your property is a good way to reduce stress and ease into the month of November with a good sleep pattern. With an estate plan, your property will be protected, giving you peace of mind.
How Does Estate Planning Protect Your Property?
You may be wondering how exactly an estate plan protects your property, as it’s not as though it’s a security system or guard dog. But an estate plan actually is one of the greatest protections you can have.
Estate planning is the process of putting together a plan for where your property will go after you pass on. That’s not the only function of an estate plan, however. An estate plan also allows you to have a trusted individual make healthcare decisions for you in the event of a crisis. A similar trusted person makes decisions for you financially with the “Power of Attorney” estate planning tool.
If you don’t get together an estate plan, you will be looking at some serious risk to your property in the form of probate.
Property’s Downfall: Probate
If estate planning is your alarm system, think of probate as the burglar that the alarm system is designed to stop. Probate court is the legal process of passing on the property of someone who dies without an estate plan. Just having a will is not enough to get you out of probate court.
Probate is costly, time-consuming, and all-around miserable for your family. The court takes your property and divides it how it sees fit. Your property might even go to the state, which will sell it. This unappealing result is what happens if you don’t create a plan for what will happen to your property after you die.
Morbid though this conversation is, it’s important to think about, and it does have a positive upside: with estate planning, you can avoid the doom and gloom of probate. You’ll be able to sleep easy knowing that your property is protected and secured. Schedule an estate planning consultation today!
Sunday, November 5th was daylight savings time! Who doesn’t love the extra hour to sleep in? With daylight savings time, there are tons of different things you can do with your extra hour. Sure, you can pick to watch an extra episode or two of your favorite show on Netflix, but you can (and should) switch it up this year and do something that will benefit your future and your loved ones’ future for years to come: estate planning.
Schedule an estate planning consultation! Use your extra hour wisely, and you will be able to see the long-term effects of such diligent planning. In this article, we’ll tell you a little about what to expect from your estate planning consultation, as well as extra information about some main points to know.
When you go to your estate planning consultation, the discussion is going to focus on your needs and the needs of your family. However, as with anything, you might want to brush up a little on the topic before you go to the consult.
There are a variety of different estate planning tools such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care surrogates, and more. Here is a brief overview of the major terms to know.
Estate Planning Cheat Sheet
- Wills are a little different from estate plans, but they are important to know about anyway. Wills go into effect when you die. Wills direct who will receive your property after death. Wills don’t actually help you avoid probate; that’s not how you dodge that bullet. The only way to avoid probate is through estate planning, which is covered in the next three points.
- Trusts go into effect once you create them. You don’t have to be dead, as with a will. A trust minimizes estate taxes. It is a right in property that is held in a fiduciary relationship by one party. The trust benefits the other party. This second party is known as the beneficiary.
- Powers of Attorney. Your power of attorney acts on your behalf in financial matters if you are unable to take control of your matters for yourself. A power of attorney is a good way to make sure that you can have someone responsible taking care of your finances.
- Healthcare Surrogates. A healthcare surrogate makes healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Much like your POA, you want to make sure that your healthcare surrogate is responsible and knows what you want. A healthcare directive, to distinguish the two, is a written order that tells the doctors and hospital managing your care what you want to have happen if you are incapacitated.
With your extra hour, how will you spend it? For one of the days, you can use the extra hour to schedule an estate planning consultation and ensure that you have control of your future (then, of course, you can use the other days’ hours for Netflix, naptime, and relaxing).
Some of the best Halloween memories come from trick-or-treating with your friends and family. When you go up to someone’s door and say, “Trick or treat!” you know that they will almost always give you candy, never a “trick” (unless you count getting raisins as a trick). When it comes to your family, you never want to leave them tricks either, but, unfortunately, that’s just what will happen if you die without an estate plan.
Probate court is the ultimate “trick,” and making your family go through that is not a fun surprise whatsoever. In this article, we’ll talk about what probate court is and how to avoid it, ensuring that your family will not get a nasty surprise after you die.
The “Tricks” in Probate Court
Estate planning has many benefits. It gives direction on where your assets should go when you pass on, and it allows you to take advantage of tax deductions and benefits so that you don’t saddle your family with the twin evils that are creditors and taxes.
Probate court is what happens when you die without an estate plan. The court manages the distribution of your assets and debts, often selling the former to pay the latter. Your family does not get anything and, if they do, they’re likely to not get it in the way in which you would prefer. Your creditors receive whatever it takes to pay off the debts. The point of probate court is to wrap an estate up by paying off debts, and it does so through an arduous, costly, and time-consuming process.
There is always the chance that the government will get your things as well, meaning that the state now owns your property and will likely sell it. These scary alternatives are what happens when you don’t have an estate plan.
Ramifications on Your Family
You may be wondering why you should care. You’ll be dead and won’t have to worry about any of this stuff; why not let the court just do it?
That’s where you’re wrong.
Your family and loved ones will be dragged into the probate process and saddled with court costs. Whoever is deemed administrator will be in charge of the process, which can take a long time. If you want to make sure that you don’t leave your family with a nightmare, create an estate plan that will give clear directions on how to manage your property, assets, and healthcare when you are incapacitated or dead. Save the tricks for Halloween, not your family.
With this upcoming Halloween season, particularly with the release of the movie It, there is a lot to be spooked by. While probate court might not be as scary as killer clowns, it certainly is something you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
So, What IS Probate?
Probate is a legal process and not a fun one, either. Probate is often referred to as “probate court” because the process is supervised by a court. Probate is what happens when a person dies without an estate plan. The court decides how to distribute your assets and debts, leaving you with no control.
You may think, “What do I care? I’ll be dead,” but remember that your family is going to be the most heavily burdened by probate. Avoiding probate court is a must.
What Does a Probate Court Do?
Probate court handles many other functions besides simple property distribution. Probate courts determine the executor of the estate, will authentication (if there is one), identification of beneficiaries, heirs, and/or decedents, payment of debts, and other important processes that you could avoid dragging your family into court for if you take the proper steps.
The probate lawyers do most of the work, but the executor supervises. The administrator (AKA executor) obtains necessary documents, hires the attorney, manages the process, cancels credit cards, pays off debts, and more. It is not an enviable job.
While some states do allow an avoidance of probate if your estate is below a certain net worth (in California, for example, the bar is $100,000), you will probably still have to go through a process, albeit a simplified version, that would be better avoided altogether.
The Terrifying Truth
The terrifying truth is that probate court is NOT something you want your family and loved ones to endure, even if you aren’t going to be around to care. Avoiding probate court involves creating an estate plan. Estate planning will help you get organized and plan for your future in the event of your demise. A well-prepared estate plan will protect your family from the court fees and time-suck that is probate court.
Estate planning attorneys are here to help. We aid you in managing the process, drafting the necessary documents, and counseling you on the best course of action depending on your situation and what your goals are.
When you leave the theater after seeing the latest scary movie, you can rest assured that none of those monsters actually exist in real life (or at least, we hope not). However, taxes, creditors, and the government do exist, and they will make your life a real nightmare if you don’t take the proper steps to avoid them. If you don’t want your loved ones to have to go through a horror movie of their own, you will need to make an estate plan.
In this article, we will discuss what taxes, creditors, and the government do with your property if you pass on without an estate plan.
But First, what is an Estate Plan?
After reading the above section, you may be wondering what an estate plan is. An estate plan is a set of documents and legal tools that aid in the distribution of a person’s assets and property during their life (when they are ill) and after their death. An estate plan usually contains three main documents, though there may be others. These three documents are a living will, power of attorney for healthcare, and a power of attorney for financial matters. These three will help you manage your healthcare when you are sick, your finances when you are incapacitated, and your property and assets after you die.
Some people choose not to plan their estate because they feel like it is too much work or unnecessary. They couldn’t be more wrong. Failure to plan your estate will result in probate court, which be a million times more work for your family, who is already grieving after your death (for more information on probate court, see our article: The Terrifying Truth About Probate Court).
What Do the “Real Monsters” Do?
Let’s say you don’t take our advice and, like every horror movie victim ever, make the wrong decision to not plan your estate. There are three boogeymen who are going to get you: taxes, creditors, and the government.
- Taxes. You can reduce taxes when you plan your estate. There are many different tax deductions and financial maneuvers you can engage in that will make the tax burden on your loved ones far less heavy. If you die without an estate plan, however, probate will take over and they will not care how many taxes your family is stuck with (and it will likely be a lot).
- Creditors. Creditors take over collection of your debt. If you die without an estate plan, your case will go to probate court. The main goal of probate court is to pay off creditors. Your family will get nothing, and your creditors will get everything. If you want to creditor-proof your estate, avoid probate.
- The government. If you die without an estate plan and don’t have decedents, beneficiaries, and other individuals listed, there is a good chance that the government will get at least some of your property.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into who the real monsters are and where they are hiding. The clown in It may have been lurking in the sewers, but taxes, creditors, and the government are hiding in probate court.
When you think of October, you might think of witches, warlocks, pumpkins, and cooler weather. However, what you may not know is that October is also Financial Planning Month, during which you can make a commitment to getting your affairs in order and tidying up your finances.
You can dig your own financial grave by doing nothing. You don’t even have to pick up your metaphorical shovel. Simply sit back and make no estate plan, and you will have dug your own financial grave, along with your family’s. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can commit to financial peace this October.
Estate Planning: The Horror Movie Antidote
The real monsters are taxes, creditors, and the government, and they all are lurking at probate court. If you die without an estate plan, your case will go to probate court. Probate will pay off your creditors and saddle your family with estate taxes in the event that they distribute your property to them. The process is lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive. October may be the month for scary surprises, but let’s avoid the unwelcome surprise that is your family having to go to probate court.
Estate planning will safeguard you against the horrors of probate court. Here is a brief overview of estate planning:
What to Know about Estate Planning
An estate plan allows you to decide where your assets will be distributed. It also gives directives on how to manage your care and finances if you are incapacitated. Here are the main documents included in an estate plan (though by no means is this list exhaustive).
- A living will. If you become incapacitated, chances are you don’t want the state to make your decisions for you. The government might not make the right choice when it comes to pulling the plug or not. A living will gives the hospital healthcare directives and information on your care that doctors can follow. Even if you are unable to give these directions yourself, the living will tells them how to manage your care.
- A financial power of attorney. If incapacitated, you will also want to ensure that your finances are managed appropriately. Appointing a financial power of attorney means you can pick someone you trust and know is responsible to be in charge of your money when you are unable to do so.
- A power of attorney for healthcare. A power of attorney for healthcare will also help you make healthcare decisions when you are unable. If your living will doesn’t cover something, this person (who you also pick), will be assist in making these decisions.
While estate planning isn’t the most Halloween-ish topic to discuss, it certainly is spooky to think about what happens if you don’t have a plan. Hopefully, this brief overview helped you to get a sense of what estate planning is and the many benefits that come with it.
As Beyoncé told us, girls run the world! And Business Women’s Day is one of several holidays reminding us of that fact. Women have come a long way in the workforce. In 1950, one in three women were part of the labor force. By 2016, that statistic was three out of five, and, today in 2017, even more gains have been made in women’s leadership. While we still have some ways to go to make sure that the workforce is equal, particularly for women of color, there have been a lot of improvements. We don’t want to squander what our foremothers gave us, and estate planning is a women’s issue because it allows us to protect our hard-won assets.
Estate Planning and Women
To understand why estate planning is a women’s issue, it’s important to realize how little of an “estate” women were historically “allowed” to have. Even just up until forty years ago, women were still not given the abilities men had to control their own money. It wasn’t until 1969 that a U.S. court definitively ruled that labor jobs couldn’t not only be given to men, and firing women from factory work simply because of their gender was illegal.
Estate planning allows you to direct where your assets will go and how your healthcare decisions, financial choices, and other important directives are to be made in the event of incapacitation or death.
Here are some of the ways in which estate planning benefits women:
- Agency and Control
Things happen, and you want to be able to keep your property and assets where you want them, without being forced into a decision that would cause a loss of property. Estate planning gives you agency over your healthcare choices and financial decisions. There is no better way to be secure that what you’ve worked hard for won’t be for nothing.
- Peace of Mind
In the event of incapacity or death, the documents contained in an estate plan will give you a trusted person to make decisions for you. Your living will also contains directives that will tell the hospital and other personnel how to manage your care.
If you want, you can ensure that your money and property are invested or put into a trust fund that will keep them around for a long time to benefit your daughters and granddaughters.
Estate planning is a women’s issue, and, this September, make sure that you retain control over your assets and finances by creating an estate plan.
Football season is upon us, bringing with it cooler fall weather, pumpkins, warm coffees, sweaters, and many more of the great things we love about autumn. And, as any football fan knows, your favorite team is nothing without their playbook and, stored within it, all their carefully laid out plans. Without a strong playbook, a football team cannot hope to win any games.
Think of estate planning the same way. Estate planning allows you to plan what will happen to your possessions, valuables, business, and loved ones after you pass on. There are many reasons why people may not think to start planning their estate as soon as possible. Whether their hesitancy is because they don’t think they have an estate, aren’t old enough, or don’t know where to begin—these reasons should be cast aside in favor of some solid planning.
What Goes into an Estate Plan?
Much like the X’s and O’s in a football play book, there are key elements to an estate plan that you can expect to see throughout. Here are the three main documents:
- Living Will and Testament
If you are incapacitated and receiving medical care, you will still want to make your own decisions, even in your diminished condition. A living will is a document that allows you to manage your healthcare via a directive. You give the instructions in the living will and testament, and these instructions must be followed.
- Durable Power of Attorney
With a POA, you are the principal (donor) and, as this principal, you grant someone the capability to act on your behalf legally. If you become unable to make your own decisions, this trusted person can take over for you. If you pick someone you are sure will make good decisions, you won’t have to worry about any issues, even when you are incapacitated.
- Health Care Surrogate
Your health care surrogate acts on your behalf in medical situations. Often, after becoming seriously ill, a patient is incapable of making his or her own decisions. Estate planning allows you to maintain control using a trusted decision-maker.
As any sports fan knows, you must have a strong playbook to succeed. Estate planning will ensure that your plans are laid out carefully, allowing you maximum security and peace of mind. Don’t drop the ball—contact an attorney today to get started on or update your estate plan.
While the suit-clad, briefcase-toting, fast-talking infant from Boss Baby doesn’t need anybody’s help, your baby certainly does! September is National Baby Safety Month, bringing with it helpful reminders on childcare, parenthood dos and don’ts, and other important safety information that will help keep your kids healthy and happy.
When you think of baby safety, you probably picture cutting up food into tiny pieces and covering your house with (nearly adult-proof) baby gates and locks. However, there is an aspect of infant protection that you may have overlooked: estate planning. Estate planning gives your child the financial security needed to keep him or her safe in the long run.
Estate Planning and Your Baby
There are multiple ways in which you can use your estate plan to protect your children. Here are some of them:
- A Durable Power of Attorney
If you are incapacitated, a durable power of attorney will act on your behalf, whether these actions include paying bills, managing your business, or taking care of your children. Selecting a durable power of attorney and placing, in writing, your expectations of him or her will allow you peace of mind that, if something were to happen, your POA would make important, responsible decisions regarding those most precious to you: your baby.
- Funeral Arrangements
Certainly, no one wants to think about their own death. It’s a rather morbid topic, even though Halloween is just around the corner. Spelling out your funeral process beforehand gives your relatives and friends time to manage your funeral without having to go through the anxiety of funeral arrangements in addition to the grieving process.
Choosing a responsible executor of your will ensures that your children are being taken care of by someone who will get things done and put your kids where they need to go in the event of a crisis. Estate planning gives you the ability to select your will’s executor. Choose someone who will advocate for your children’s safety through the will execution process, making sure your kids get whatever they need.
As you may have guessed, a major way that a will protects your babies is through your ability to name them as the beneficiary of your estate if something happens. You can name your child a beneficiary for different types of assets, and the money management will be handled by someone that can act on behalf of the minors. This way, you will make sure that your kids are settled financially in case anything happens.
If only babies were as competent and corporate-savvy as Boss Baby! But alas, they are not, and, thus, you have to take steps to protect those who are vulnerable and need it most. This National Baby Safety Month, start estate planning to keep your kids secure and protected if something were to happen.
Florida has been hit by almost five hundred hurricanes and tropical storms in the past 170 years. If there is one thing every Floridian knows, it’s hurricane season. Hurricane season divides Florida into two basic groups: people who think the storm “will pass” and aren’t worried about it and people who stay glued in mortal terror to their TV screen. It seems like storms are getting stronger; however, luckily, these storms are easier to track using the latest technology. In addition to packaged food, bottled water, flashlights, and other safety supplies comprising the must-haves on your disaster preparedness list, include estate planning as part of the readiness kit.
Confused? Hear us out.
Estate Planning as Part of Your Hurricane Routine
Estate planning is the ultimate form of disaster readiness because it helps you plan for what might happen if you’re incapacitated or killed in a storm. In Florida, which has survived more hurricanes than almost any other state, it’s commonplace to be unconcerned even by the largest hurricane. However, things happen, and a well-thought-out estate plan can help you prepare for the worst.
Here are several ways in which estate planning helps in a disaster situation like a particularly strong hurricane:
- Incapacitation or Death (Worst-Case Scenario)
If you are injured or killed, your estate plan will contain several important documents to help you, including a durable power of attorney, living will, and healthcare surrogate. A POA carries out decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them yourself. A living will is a directive that tells people your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so yourself, and a healthcare surrogate is a trusted person who will act on your behalf in a medical emergency where you cannot make your own decisions.
In the event of major disaster in which you end up incapacitated, estate planning gives specific instructions on how to handle your medical care and other decisions.
- Property Management
After a hurricane, if you are unable to make your own decisions, your business and assets won’t be cast aside and throw to the government. Estate planning allows you to dictate where your property goes, as well as to whom.
- Funeral Arrangements
If the worst-case scenario occurs, you want to have your funeral prepared via an estate plan. This way, your family has an easier time making the arrangements and can focus on grieving and spending time together.
- Taking Care of Your Kids
If something bad happens, you’ll need to know that your kids will be taken care of. Estate planning means that you can list your kids as beneficiaries, dictate where they will go in the event of your passing away if they are underage, and make other important decisions pertaining to them. In the event of a life-changing disaster, this will be vital to your family’s safety.
Though you might not think of estate planning as a tool to have in your disaster-preparedness kit, it absolutely should be. Estate planning protects you and your family in the worst-case scenario, such as a major, life-altering storm.