1) Estate planning for your potential disability. If you were to become disabled, what would your family do? In the absence of an estate plan, your family members would be required to go to court in order to have you declared incompetent and to appoint a conservator/guardian. This can be a costly, lengthy and embarrassing process. However, a Living Trust with proper health care documents provides for this possibility while completely avoiding court involvement.
2) Estate planning will help you avoid Probate. Probate is the court process that proves the Will, if any, is valid. The probate court then carries out the instructions of the Will or distributes the assets according to the Judge’s verdict if the Will is found invalid. Probate is often costly and time consuming and is also a public process that allows anyone access to information regarding your financial affairs, subjecting your heirs to possible predators. With a Living Trust your assets are kept out of Probate. The trust also provides an efficient and private way to transfer assets to those you love upon your death.
3) Estate planning will protect your assets from creditors. If your assets are transferred to your loved ones outside of a Living Trust they cannot be protected from creditors. If, however, the assets are transferred through a Living Trust, your loved one’s creditors will not be able to access the assets as those assets are placed in a protected trust.
4) Estate planning instills your values to your descendants. This is one aspect of estate planning that many people do not even consider, yet it is very valuable. Even though you are gone, a Living Trust will provide a way for you to keep your values alive. For instance, if you want your loved ones to receive a college degree, you are able to provide assets in the trust to this purpose. You may also allow them to receive their inheritance upon completion of their education or deny them their inheritance if they don’t get a college degree and/or maintain a stable job.
5) Estate planning helps to minimize taxes. Although currently less than 1 percent of people in the United States die with a taxable estate, a good plan will help to avoid paying more in taxes than you owe.
6) Estate planning will protect your assets from Long Term Care. Provisions in the Living Trust will allow for planning to take place that will allow you to avoid having to spend down your entire estate before you qualify for public benefits coverage.
7) Estate planning will provide divorce protection for beneficiaries. Your Living Trust will provide protection for your loved ones in the event they get divorced. This will ensure that your hard earned assets do not go to some future ex in law.
Contributed by MH Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead Estate Planning Attorney and Partner David T. Eastman
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.