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A Will Does Not Protect Your Estate

I recently received an investing magazine produced by a well-known brokerage firm. To give them credit, the magazine typically has very good articles – on investing. The same cannot be said for one of their recent articles – on estate planning. Did you notice the difference? Investing and financial planning are completely separate from estate planning. True, they go hand in hand, but I caution you to be leery of who is giving the advice and they type of advice that is being given.

One particular article was written by a vice president of this brokerage firm. His brief biography mentions that he is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In his article, “Protect Your Estate,” he correctly points out that if someone does not have an estate plan, their estate is possibly subject to three not-so-fun things.  First, the determination of where your assets go and who cares for your minor children are subject to the decision-making of a judge.  Second, your estate value might dwindle due to taxes and attorneys’ fees.  And third, your estate may be subject to probate, a complex and time-consuming process.

The very first solution offered by the author to remedy all three situations is to update your will. Unfortunately, this solution does not protect your estate from any of these three dilemmas! First, a will does in fact state where you want your assets to go and who the guardians for minor children should be. But the will still must pass through the hands of a judge for that to occur. Second, probate is not cheap, and a will does not protect an estate from having to pay taxes. And third, the term “probate” itself means “to prove a will,” so if you have a will and over $75,000 of assets (in Arizona) in your name alone, you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself a trip to probate court.

To give the author credit, the remaining steps in his article are helpful. Some of the other suggestions include obtaining proper power of attorney documents, establishing a revocable living trust, and making sure your assets are titled correctly for your particular circumstances. I could not agree more with the suggestion to create a revocable living trust, but that is an entire blog article for another day. There may be circumstances where a will is the best vehicle for a particular client, but let me be clear – a will does not protect your estate from a judge, fees, or probate!

For the time being, I caution you to look at who is giving advice and the type of advice being given. The focus of our firm is solely on estate planning, and I’d encourage you to make an appointment today for a free consultation to determine which estate planning method is best for you and your circumstances.

MH_iphone_splashWhat 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.

 

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