What is an Estate Plan?
An Estate Plan is a series of legal documents that allow you to control how your estate is managed and disposed of both after your death and during your life should you become incapacitated. An Estate Plan will help reduce or eliminate the uncertainties of probate administration; help maximize the value of your estate by reducing taxes and other expenses; and designate guardians for any minor children or dependent beneficiaries. An Estate Plan is as simple or a complicated as your needs dictate but ultimately the goal of an Estate Plan is to help you execute your specific wishes. (photo 1 to the left of this section, please ensure the meta data and image description is included and accurate)
Estate Plan Facts
What are the parts of an Estate Plan?
Your Estate Plan contains your will and trust, beneficiary designations, designation of pre-need guardians, nominations of agents under powers of attorney, and distribution of property and gifts. Depending on your needs, the Estate Plan may also contain a strategy to defer or decrease estate or income taxes.
A will is the most common element in any Estate Plan and it allows you to dictate exactly how you want your estate handled and where your assets should go after your death. It is very important to make sure your will is created in compliance with the laws where it was created and that is takes into consideration the laws of the state(s) where your property is located.
A trust can be used to control the distribution of your assets following your death. Different types of trusts can be created to craft a plan that meets the specific needs of your estate and your beneficiaries. A trust can operate for as long or short of a duration as your specific situation dictates.
Advance Directives allow you to make decisions about your healthcare and personal care should you become legally incapacitated. This portion of your Estate Plan can include your healthcare surrogate, living will, and durable power of attorney. Advance Directives can help relieve some of the burden from family members that are tasked with making decisions on your behalf and insure that your wishes are reflected in those decisions.
Your Estate Plan can help minimize the amount of estate and gift taxes required to be paid on your behalf. Strategies can be put in place to begin distributing your assets prior to your death or utilizing other tax free or tax advantaged alternatives.
Probate can be a very time intensive and expensive process. A well-designed Estate Plan can minimize or eliminate the need for a complicated probate process.
I don’t have a lot of stuff. Do I still need an Estate Plan?
You might be surprised by how much your estate has in it. Your estate consists of your home, personal property, bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, business ownership, and anything else you own when you die. Your Estate Plan will dictate how all of these things get handled. Without it, your assets will be distributed under “default” rules set forth by state statutes, and that might not match what you want to happen.
How often does an Estate Plan need to be updated
How often you review your Estate Plan varies on your specific needs. Some people review their Estate Plan as often as they review their financial plans. For most people, the general recommendation is every three to five years or anytime there is a major life event such as a marriage or divorce; birth of a child or grandchild; major change in employment; or death, disability, or divorce of an immediate family member or named beneficiary.
I just moved. Do I need to do anything with my Estate Plan?
If you have moved within the same state you should review your Estate Plan documents and update it with your new address where needed. If your move has resulted in a change in your personal property you should consult your attorney to make sure any further updates aren’t required.
If you have moved to a new state it is very important to have your Estate Plan reviewed by an attorney to ensure your current plan is still in compliance with your new State’s laws and that all your documents still do what you intended.
I’ve changed my mind. How do I change my Estate Plan?
You can change your Estate Plan at anytime as long as you are have legal capacity. It is important to do an official amendment with your attorney. Simply making the corrections on your exiting plan can be easily contested since changes to Estate Planning documents have to be made following the same formalities followed when the initial documents are signed. More importantly, you should discuss your changes with your attorney to avoid any unintended consequences.
Is it expensive to set up an Estate Plan?
The cost of your Estate Plan is determined by the complicity of the plan and the number of documents needed. In most cases, your total cost can be determined as a flat fee at your initial meeting with our Estate Plan Attorney. While the exact amount varies, Estate Plans can run between $500 and $5,000.
Meet Our Attorneys
Dain C. Akin relocated from Westerville, Ohio to DeLand in 2017 and joined his wife Sherri Akin as a
member of Akin Law P.A. Dain received his Master of Laws in Taxation in 1990..
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