Your estate planning attorney will always make it a point to educate you about the fundamentals of estate planning under the law. This is the truth regardless if you already have an estate plan or not. The reason being that most people have no idea what an estate plan is or why it is important at best to at least know about it. Educating yourself is vital to understanding the complex process of estate planning and an estate planning attorney can make it easier for you as he can break it down and explain it in plain language so you can go beyond the legal words and truly know why it is important. Once you know what estate planning is all about it can make it easy for you to make informed decisions about your future and not simply sign some documents that a computer spits out. If an estate planning attorney was to explain to someone what estate planning is all about he would most likely say that it is really all about the need of creating peace of mind for you and your heirs. According to Estate Planning experts, Fleming & Monroe, here are some important fundamentals that you need to know about the estate planning process.
Purpose of Estate Planning
When you sit down with your estate planning attorney the first thing he is probably going to discuss with you about is the purpose of the legal document. While on the surface, the process is all about planning what happens to your stuff after you die it can also include directives to what should be done regarding your care and the future of your personal properties if you become incapacitated mentally. A lot of times you will find that this is not often discussed but it is important that you speak with your estate planning attorney about this aspect as well. Apart from this, there is no way to predict the future as everyone know accidents could happen that might render you incapable of doing personal and financial decisions. Having legal advanced directives in place through an estate plan executed with the help of an attorney can ensure a smooth transition that will be beneficial to you and your loved ones.
Taxes Affecting the Estate
Your estate planning attorney will discuss with you about the different types of taxes that affect your personal legal estate. You will find that there are currently several under the law that you need to know: state estate tax, gift tax, estate tax and generation skipping transfer taxes and lastly income taxes too. By discussing these in detail with the help of your estate planning attorney, you gain knowledge on how these can affect your estate including the amount of inheritance your legal beneficiaries will receive.
How Property is Titled
Another important topic that your estate planning attorney will explain to you is how your property is titled. This can determine who will inherit the moment you pass on and sad to say there are still a lot of people that meet with their respective lawyers and have no idea how their property is titled under the law. Your lawyer will ask you if your property is registered under your name only or is it with joint names with right of survivorship, tenants by the entirety, tenants in common or is everything placed in a revocable living trust? For certain kinds of assets such as electronic assets, the attorney would like to know who has been named as the primary and secondary beneficiaries. By getting a good grip on who actually owns what can really help make the process much simpler as who owns it now will determine who will eventually get it upon the death of the primary owner. A good example to ponder is if you have a will that leaves all of your property to your brother and sister but all of your property is titled in joint names with right of survivorship with your sister. If this is the case under the law, all of your property will go to the sister and nothing will be left to your brother once you pass on. If this is not resolved, your will would have lost its purpose.
The estate planning lawyers will also help you understand discuss a document called revocable trust. This one legal document covers three phases of your life namely: what happens to you and your property while you are alive and well, what happens it you become incapacitated mentally and after you pass on. Lawyers always tell their clients to avoid probate and this is one sure way to avoid a court from determining who will get what once you die. A revocable trust is also a powerful tool that you can use under the law to keep your estate plan a private family matter and not a public spectacle. And since there is no one size fits best fits all scenario, your estate planning lawyer will also consider several factors in order to know if a revocable living trust is something for you.