First of all, what is estate planning? It’s the process people follow to protect their estate and their family in case of their incapacitation or death. It includes such things as writing a will, naming a guardian for an surviving minors in the family, creating trust accounts, naming an executor for the estate and setting up a durable power of attorney.
Traditional estate planning can be quite expensive and many people can’t afford it so they are turning to an online option – the virtual legal service. For example, a traditionally written will can cost between $500 and $1,000 to prepare. An online version can be done for an average of $60, a much more affordable choice.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before you decide whether the online option is a good choice for you.
Do I have a simple situation?
If you don’t have any minor children and your estate is relatively small, you probably could use an online service such as Rocket Lawyer.
How big is my estate?
If you have assets and insurance in excess of the current estate tax exemption ($5.45 million per individual in 2016) the online option probably is not for you. You would do better to work with an estate planning professional who will help you evaluate the ways you can leave money to your beneficiaries while minimizing estate taxes. This could include setting up a trust that would minimize taxes and avoid probate.
Do I need expert legal advice?
Even with a small estate, you may have special circumstances that require expert legal advice. For example, if you are part of a blended family, own property outside of your state or have a disabled family member, online planning may not be for you. You may need to speak with an attorney to discuss your specific needs and to work with that expert to create a plan that meets your needs.Although online estate planning is a good choice for many, make sure you consider your current situation, the size of your estate and your other circumstances. Then decide whether hiring an estate planning attorney is the best option for you or whether you can comfortably go the online route.
For more information about estate planning, check out our website www.diesmart.com.
If you’ve got young children, your days are filled with all sorts of activities related to them. You don’t have time for much else, especially not long term planning.
However, ask yourself who will take care of your children if you and/or your spouse are not there? What if you’re in a car crash or some other totally unexpected accident and both of you are killed or seriously injured. What if you are a single parent with a catastrophic illness. Where will your children go?
If you don’t name a legal guardian, the state in which you live will decide who will raise your children in case you are unable to do so. Do you want judge who doesn’t know you or your children to decide where they will live and who will care for them? It could be a relative you don’t think would do a good job or who doesn’t share your views on how to raise your children. Or it might be someone who is not related to your children at all.
Life isn’t predictable and no one knows when the unforeseeable will happen. Protect your children today. Prepare the legal document that names a legal guardian for your children today.
For more information about this subject and other end of life planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.
A guardian of the person has day-to-day responsibility for your minor children, assuming the role of a substitute parent when you die.
Q. How is the guardian of the person appointed? A.When you die, someone must petition the court to be appointed as the guardian of the person. You have the right to nominate a guardian of the person to take care of your children when you die. The court will normally defer to that person as the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate. However, other individuals have the right to petition the court to serve in these roles. If this should happen, the court will examine who best will protect the interests of the minor(s) and appoint that person as guardian.
If you don’t nominate a guardian, the court will do it for you, according to state rules of preferences. A surviving parent usually comes first, followed by grandparents, if neither parent is alive.
Fact: Surviving parent rights
If one parent dies, the surviving parent continues to have the right to take personal care of minor children.
When a divorced or single parent dies, the court generally appoints the surviving parent as guardian of the person for a minor or disabled child, even if the deceased parent would have been opposed to that.
"Just a little bit of planning made my life so much better."
FACE THE FACTS!
Dying is not just an emotional event in our life, it is a major financial event as well. Consider the following possible financial consequences of your death:
The paperwork and legal procedures required to settle your estate can cost your family four to eight percent of your net worth.
If probate is required, your family’s inheritance can be delayed for months, and in some cases, several years. During the probate process, the courts decide when your family can sell your personal residence. Even though your children can’t afford to pay the mortgage.
Contract law may override the instructions in your Will or Living Trust
Giving your share of your estate directly to your spouse may cost your family hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you or your surviving spouse die without a will, most state intestate laws do not provide for stepchildren.
Naming a minor child as a beneficiary can subject the supervision of their money to the probate court. For a fee.
Giving money directly to a minor child with special needs can make the child ineligible for government benefits.
Your business may go out of business because no one know how to access digital records.
The beneficiary choice of per capita or per stirpes may accidentally disinherit a grandchild
Your choice of a beneficiary for your 401(k) or IRA retirement accounts can dramatically change the after death tax deferred value of these accounts.
If you don’t have long term care insurance, you must use your assets to pay for long term care. There may be no assets when you die.
Life insurance proceeds may be part of your taxable estate. If your estate is subject to the federal estate tax, almost half of the life insurance proceeds may be needed to pay the estate tax on the insurance proceeds.
When someone dies, a series of laws and rules determine who has the legal authority to manage the decedent’s financial affairs.
These rules and documents also determine your beneficiaries and the cost, time and effort it will take to settle your estate when you die. Planning now will save your family money later.
These resources are useful when making plans to keep your money when you die: