Probate: four things you need to know
Probate administration is the fastest growing area of law, but many people don’t fully know the extent of what it means or entails. In fact, several changes have been made to existing tax laws that can dramatically impact the amount of tax you’ll pay when you pass away – yes, even after death there’s still some taxes to sort out! Additionally, these changes will also affect your assets and property that are inherited by your family members.
Below, see four basics you should know about probate, estate planning and more.
Probate is all about the will
Probate is the process of distributing a person’s will after they’ve passed away. Making sure you have a detailed and strongly written will is crucial and extremely important, since a poorly worded will could lead to contest by family members and expensive legal fees. If one family member challenges the will stating that it’s not the actual will of a decedent or if they produce a second will, the case can get even trickier. In order to prevent this, having an experienced attorney draft the will and keep it for the time when it may need to be produced in a court can save some of these troubles.
Many people don’t have a will
According to AARP, 60 percent of Americans don’t have a will in place. And while that percentage increases with older citizens, it’s still important for younger people to be thinking about – especially when a significant life event has occurred, like the birth of a child, a wedding, divorce or even an accident. While it may seem daunting to be thinking about end-of-life arrangements, it’s essential to consider what will happen to your estate and belongings. Without a will, your family may be left wondering about what you would have wanted, guessing and – in unfortunate cases – fighting over the property and assets that you have left behind.
Proper estate planning can prevent probate
Properly planning your estate can lead to avoiding probate complications down the road. By completing simple estate planning documents like a strong will, living trust, health care surrogate, HIPAA release and power of attorney, you can mitigate grievances for your family after you’ve passed away and avoid the probate administration. One of the most common methods we at the office of attorney Joseph Knape use in estate planning is creating an irrevocable trust. This trust will shelter the tax consequence of the assets until the person passes away and sometimes even to the generation after them.
You need power of attorney
A must-have for any kind of estate planning, power of attorney is an authorization by you allowing a chosen individual or individuals to execute legal documents on your behalf in the event you become disabled or mentally incapacitated. This is crucial since it gives you the opportunity to select who will speak for you or make decisions for you in the unfortunate event you can’t for yourself. To learn more, call us at 850-225-5563 or set up a consultation online.