The biggest misconception about estate planning is that it is only for the wealthy. But estate planning is much more than a way for the wealthy to minimize their estate tax. Instead, estate planning is important for every person in Phoenix, no matter your circumstances. Estate planning is about taking the legal tools and customizing them to your unique situation.
To give you an idea about how you could benefit from estate planning—no matter your income—here is a list of nine things that an estate plan can do for you:
- Avoid Arizona Intestacy Laws
If you die without a will in Arizona, state law governs what happens to your assets. These laws are called intestacy laws. Often the legal rules are different then how you would have distributed your assets. If there is a will in place, it governs over Arizona’s intestacy laws, and you will have control over what happens to your property.
- Arrange for Guardians of Your Minor Children
Through a will, you can pick the guardian of your minor children. But if you die without an estate plan, a judge will decide who will be the guardian of your children. A judge does not know your family situation and may not make the same decision that you would have made.
- Plan for the Succession of Your Business
If you own your own small business, estate planning can control the future of the business after you pass away. Maybe you want the business to be passed down to your family, perhaps you want it to go to an employee who helped start the business, or rather you may want your interest sold to your partners. Whatever your wishes, estate planning can organize a smooth transition when you are no longer able to be the one making decisions.
- Plan for Incapacity
Estate planning does more than just plan for what happens after your death. You can also plan for incapacity. For example, a durable power of attorney allows you to choose a person to handle your financial and legal needs. Additionally, a healthcare power of attorney gives you the opportunity to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Through a living will you can guide your doctors and family about end-of-life care.
- Avoid Probate Costs and Publicity
If you die with a will, your estate will be probated, meaning that it will go through a court process. Probate is public and there are court fees associated with it. Through estate planning, you and your attorney can discuss how to avoid probate by creating a trust.
- Minimize Stress on Your Loved Ones
It is hard to plan for a future that you will not be a part of. But by facing estate planning bravely, you will be minimizing the stress on your loved ones when you do pass away. Instead of trying to figure out what you would have wanted and dealing with logistics, your family will be able to focus on grieving and celebrating your life.
- Prevent Fighting Between Family Members
If you engage in estate planning and clearly communicate your wishes, it is less likely that fights will arise after your death. Most everyone wants their family to get along, even after they are no longer around. A proper estate plan can provide that everyone gets their fair share of your estate. It will also give you the opportunity to discuss your estate plan with your family and explain your decisions before you are no longer able to do so.
- Protect Your Heirs
Some of your heirs may be unable or unprepared to handle the assets that you wish to leave them. They may be too young, struggling with mental health issues, or irresponsible. Through estate planning, you can create a trust through which you can assign trustees to make decisions or put certain conditions on the assets. For example, you could require the money to be spent on educational expenses or mental health treatment.
- Safeguard Your Assets From Creditors and Lawsuits
If you are worried about protecting your assets from creditors or lawsuits, there several estate planning tools that can help you achieve this goal. For example, creditors cannot come after assets that are in an irrevocable trust.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
Nicole Pavlik Law Firms helps the residents of Phoenix, Arizona with their estate planning needs. To see what Nicole Pavlik can do for your estate, give her office a call at (602) 635-6176.