Here At Our Office In Chapel Hill, NC
A common question we hear from our clients is “Do I need an Estate Plan?” The common misconception among the general populace is that estate plans are only for wealthy individuals or families. This could not be further from the truth. While a full-fledged and intricate estate plan might not be right for you, there are many elements that every person should have, no matter the situation. The hard questions that come with estate planning can be easy to put off, but answering these questions now and putting them down on paper with the help of an experienced attorney can save you and your family many problems, and many dollars, down to road should an accident occur.
What Is Estate Planning?
According to Wikipedia the basic definition of estate planning is:
“Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person’s life, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate during the person’s life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax. Estate planning includes planning for incapacity as well as a process of reducing or eliminating uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.”
In layman’s terms, estate planning is the act of creating legal documents that dictate what happens to your property, money, guardianship of children or even your own body if you are incapacitated in an accident or at worst become deceased. An estate plan contains many types of documents like:
- Durable Power Of Attorney
- Guardianship Designations
- Letter Of Intent
While not all of these documents are required for every case, it is important to consult an experienced attorney when creating your estate plan. An experienced attorney, like the many that make up our team here at the Law Office of Matthew Charles Suczynski, can help make this draining process flow as seamlessly as possible, while providing you and your family with the vital protections that will cover you, should the worst occur. Let’s jump right into what are the top 4 reasons you should have an estate plan created by an experienced attorney.
1) Protecting Your Children or Dependents
One of the most important reasons to sit down with an experienced attorney when creating an estate plan is to be sure you have done everything in your power to protect your children. We have all heard horror stories of parents dying without an estate plan and the problems it can cause minors. Remember, it does not matter how much money you have in the bank, or how old you are currently. If you have children who depend on you, it is imperative you have a plan in place. Simple questions that need to be answered (Who becomes your child’s legal guardian should you die in a car accident?, etc.) are the foundation of an estate plan. Many people have the idea that “Our best friends from college are our children’s godparents, so they will take over if something happens to us.” If it isn’t on paper, this is WRONG. If there is no plan in place where this is explicitly stated, the state would not know what you wish to happen, and the next of kin will be in charge, regardless of your unwritten wishes. If there are no living relatives, much deeper issues can arise.
2) Avoiding Probate
Avoiding Probate is one of the most popular reasons why families sit down with experienced attorneys to create estate plans. Probate is basically a set of rules that must be followed after a person death in our society.
It follows these steps:
- Proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
- Having the property appraised
- Paying debts and taxes
- Distributing the remaining property
The probate process can rarely benefit your beneficiaries while also being time consuming and expensive endeavor. A major motivation of every estate plan should be to avoid probate at all costs. By creating an estate plan that lays out how you want your assets to be handled, you can avoid the probate process entirely. If left up to the probate process, it can cause a massive mess and time consuming burden on your beneficiaries. The goal of an estate plan is to take out as much frustration for the ones you love, in what could be the hardest times of their lives.
3) Reducing The Estate Tax Burden
Estate taxes are expensive. In addition to federal taxes (currently 40% of the estate total) there are state taxes and inheritance taxes. Leaving an estate to your loved ones can often be a very costly procedure. However, there are many ways to reduce this tax burden legally, if your estate plan is created correctly. Imperative to this process, is consulting an experienced attorney to be sure you have taken every step possible to reduce the tax burden of your estate. You worked hard for your money and it is within your right to protect it as much as possible through all legal avenues. Through experienced advice and careful planning, a married couple can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, estate taxes altogether through methods like:
- ABC Trusts
- Irrevocable Living Trusts
Here at the Law Office of Matthew Charles Suczynski we have years of experience with sensitive matters like these and can help even the most complicated estates create a plan that has you and your loved one’s best interests at heart.
Why Should I Choose the Law Office of Matthew Charles Suczynski
Over the years Matthew has created hundreds of Estate Plans cases throughout the state. As such, Matthew has the skill set and experience necessary to handle your Estate Planning needs. Give the Law Office of Matthew Charles Suczynski, PLLC a call today to discuss your case at (919) 619-3242 or visit our Estate Planning page for more information.