Estate Planning Law

The Benefits of an Estate Plan and The Pitfalls If You Don’t Plan at All

Many people labor under the assumption that “estate planning” is something that they do not need to worry about. Just the term “estate” seems to indicate the type of wealth that only the 1% have. If that is your perception of estate planning – think again.

If you are a homeowner, if you own a small business, if you have life insurance, or if you have valuable personal assets that you wish to pass down to your family members, then you should have a conversation with a seasoned estate planning attorney. Indeed, no matter how much property you own and no matter the overall value of the assets in your possession, you and your family will only benefit from making a plan and deciding ahead of time how your assets should be allocated in the event of death or misfortune.

Interestingly, about 55% of people in the United States do not even have a will, much less a detailed estate plan. That means that over half of the people in America have little to no control over how their assets, accumulated over a lifetime of hard work, will be distributed. Don’t be part of that group. Take just a little time to think ahead for your family’s sake by contacting an experienced estate planning professional today.

In that vein, we welcome you to contact us at Doane & Doane, P.A. Since we began our practice in 2003, the attorneys at Doane & Doane have worked diligently to earn a reputation as one of South Florida’s most prominent Tax and Estate Planning law firms. We pride ourselves on offering our clients big firm resources with one-on-one attention more typical of a small boutique practice. We understand the personal, delicate, and sometimes emotional nature of making an estate plan. All of our attorneys make sure to take the care and time to really understand your needs. Please give us a call at 561-656-0200, and schedule a free consultation with one of our estate planning lawyers. You will be glad you did.

The Many Benefits of Estate Planning.

Planning ahead and considering options for the future is worth doing for the good of your family. Of course, none of us wants to dwell on what should happen once we pass away, but even just a little planning goes a long way. Here are just a few of the benefits that come with taking the time to make an estate plan with an estate planning attorney.

1. Tax Minimization

One marvelous benefit of estate planning is the ability to minimize the taxes that need to be paid on your assets. For example, at the time of your death, any property that is in your name, which includes any proceeds from a life insurance policy, is subject to federal estate tax. Typically, a married couple can pass down only about $600,000 to their heirs free of the estate tax. However, with a living, or revocable, trust in your name created by your estate planning attorney, you can pass to your loved ones around $1,200,000 of property managed through that trust tax-free.

2. Providing Security for Your Loved Ones

Again, though not pleasant to think about, should something happen to you, then you want to make sure that you have provided for your surviving spouse, and any children under 18 years old. Having an estate plan will allow you to do just that. When it comes to peace of mind, planning for your family if some misfortune befalls you is worth its weight in gold.

3. Preparing for Incapacity

It is possible that you could later in life suffer from a disability, such as senility, that may render you unable to make decisions with regard to your financial affairs. Estate planning is the way in which to plan for such unpredictable events before they happen. Having a plan in place will put your mind at ease that your heirs will be protected, and that important decisions have already been made in case of some emergency.

4. Reducing Expenses and Costs

Having an estate go through the probate court system can be costly and time-consuming. With a solid estate plan, you can ensure that transferring your assets to your assigned heirs will minimize the associated costs and expenses. In addition, planning ahead can also help have a property and insurance payouts go to your heirs more quickly.

5. Choosing Trustees and Executors

If you die intestate – meaning without a will – then a great deal of the control over your assets goes to the court, and any person the court chooses to handle your estate. However, if you have an estate plan in place through your attorney, then you keep the control. You can choose people you trust to act as executors and/or trustees for your estate. You also have the opportunity to give those trusted people the necessary authority to make decisions. Those steps will save your family money, and they will take the burden off of your heirs for some important decisions.

6. Business Succession Planning

If you own a business, then it is likely that you care deeply about what happens to it. You have put your blood, sweat, and tears into your business. You don’t want it squandered the moment you are not able to run it any longer. An effective estate plan can come to the rescue. With an estate plan, you can provide for an organized continuation of your business.

The Pitfalls of Failing to Plan

Of course, we have all heard the adage:  “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” While it may be going a little too far to say that you will “fail” without an estate plan, it is true that not having an estate plan comes with huge downsides.

First and foremost, without an estate plan, your assets will go to probate court. As noted earlier, probate can be expensive and time-consuming. The court will have the authority to decide how your property will be distributed, and the process may take a year before your family and heirs will receive any inheritance.

In addition, the probate court will have the authority to decide who will be the guardians of any of your minor children. Attorneys and the executor involved in the probate process will each receive about 5% of your estate to cover expenses.

Finally, a probate proceeding is in the public record. So, you will lose some privacy, and creditors and beneficiaries will know more about your affairs than you would like them to know.

Palm Beach County Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help You

If you believe that you could benefit from doing a little planning ahead with regard to your assets, then take advantage of a free consultation with the professionals at Doane & Doane. Having helped many clients in Palm Beach County over the years, the expert attorneys at Doane & Doane are ready to help you protect your family with an effective estate plan. We invite you to call us today at 561-656-0200.