I wanted to introduce my Estate Planning Blog to you. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy out there amidst the Covid-19 global pandemic. This pandemic has gotten a lot of us thinking about how we are going to take care of our loved ones. Recently, while sitting on a deserted baseball field after taking a walk, and holding my wife in my arms, I started to think to myself, what if I only have two weeks left? How do I want to spend the last two weeks of my life? Am I ready to meet my Creator?
The thought was sobering. But in a way it has recentered my life. This pandemic has a way of showing us what really matters. To me, that’s my family, my faith, and helping people.
With that in mind, I decided to start this blog to speak about estate planning information generally. I believe that the future of law practice should be more client-centered instead of law firm centered. Too many law firms cater to the ego of the attorney rather than the needs of the client. One way of being client-centered is offering helpful general information on estate planning to readers for free.
Let’s start with what is the definition of estate planning in the first place?
“Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended beneficiaries and flexibility for the individual prior to death.”
So, an estate plan is just a plan for how to give away all your valuable assets (assets meaning your personal property and land / buildings on the land) when you die, or in preparation for you death.
“An estate is the total property, real and personal, owned by an individual prior to distribution through a trust or will. Real property is real estate and personal property includes everything else, for example cars, household items, and bank accounts. Estate planning distributes the real and personal property to an individual’s heirs.”
Basically, everything you own is your “estate.”
One important consideration for estate planning is avoiding the costly probate system. The probate system is a court ordered administration of a dead persons estate. It can be expensive.
The most common way to plan your estate is through wills and trusts.
If you have no will the court will substitute the laws of intestacy to decide how to give away your property. If you have a will then the court will try follow your intent (generally speaking).
A living trust can be a good way to avoid probate and even avoid or reduce some taxes.