What are the Basics of Estate Planning?

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estate planning

You work hard to get a good education, to advance your career, and to provide security for your family. In fact, you may be so busy living your life – particularly with all of the challenges today – that you forget to consider what will happen to those you love once you are no longer around to enjoy life with them. 

Planning is the Key

Indeed, the work of a lifetime can be undone without proper planning and help. The consequence is that the assets for which you worked so hard could be lost in taxes and other costs associated with an estate that was not well planned.

To avoid the pitfalls that could happen from a lack of estate planning, you need to 

1. Review your own estate, and determine the status of your assets, liabilities, and any other obligations.
2. Then, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can consider the tax consequences for your estate when it comes to gifts, providing for your heirs, and other wealth transfers.
3. Finally, you can create a list of primary and secondary beneficiaries to help ensure a streamlined process.  

All of that is to say that it is never too early to start planning for your family’s well-being. Accordingly, in this article, we are going to discuss some of the basics of estate planning.  If after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own circumstances, we welcome you to contact the seasoned estate planning attorneys at Crary Buchanan. At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.  

We are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation. Call us today at 772-218-9600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

The First Building Block of Estate Planning – The Will

Most will agree that if you are planning for the future, the best first step is to create a last will and testament. That is because you can plan for things like guardianship of your children, and distribution of property, assets, and any other valuables. However, creating a will is not as easy as needing one. 

As noted above, the first step in making a will is to sit down with an attorney to determine what the composition of your estate is. Then, you can discuss how you would like your assets distributed, and any other matters you would like explained or laid out in a legal document. 

After taking stock of your estate and any pending financial matters which could impact the distribution of any assets, you would then designate the people or organizations to whom you would like to receive all or part of your estate, known as your “beneficiaries.” 

In the case of children who are under 18, you will also want to name a guardian for those children. That is the person who can assume legal responsibility for their care and well-being should you pass away.   

Once you have decided how to distribute your assets, you will want to consider who will administer your estate – commonly known as a “personal representative,” or “executor.” The executor must manage how your estate will be distributed among your beneficiaries.

Something Worth Considering – A Trust

Another compliment or alternative to a will is a trust. Often spoken of as a “trust fund” by many, trust is another way to ensure that your assets are protected and your beneficiaries are provided for as you intended. Simply put, a trust holds assets for beneficiaries and distributes them according to the distribution scheme you set up through an attorney. 

While a bank, investment house, or other institution will often hold the assets for beneficiaries, you are able to choose a “trustee” who can either exert control of the distribution of money – an ideal choice for very young beneficiaries or those whose financial sense has not yet matured – or one who ensures that the proverbial ‘trains run on time’ and the distribution occurs uninterrupted. 

Another option is a trust with a defined distribution of assets such as a periodic distribution to beneficiaries or at specific milestones, such as when a beneficiary graduates college or gets married. Trusts have a variety of tax benefits. They also give you the ability to skip the probate process and the direction of assets in the event of the death of a beneficiary. 

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, there are many ways a trust can benefit you and your loved ones.

Begin Your Estate Planning Journey with Crary Buchanan

Crary Buchanan has served the people of Stuart since 1927, and we would be proud to represent you with your estate planning issues. We can help you create an appropriate and comprehensive plan to take care of your family and distribute your assets according to your wishes. If you need guidance for probate proceedings, or support as you fulfill your duties as an executor or trustee, our firm can offer you extensive legal knowledge and dedicated representation. Estate planning does not need to be a burden; call our offices today to learn what we can do to help.

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of estate planning. You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in Florida estate planning law. The legal complexities of planning an estate or serving as the trustee or executor for the estate of another can leave you with any questions

So, let Crary Buchanan clear up any issues or questions you have related to your estate planning needs. Let our experience and resources help you make the best decisions for the good of your family and other heirs. We are prepared to help you plan your future or carry out the wishes of a departed friend or relative.  

There is no need to be intimidated by the law or probate system when you have the support of the talented team at Crary Buchanan. If you have more questions or want dedicated legal counsel to help plan your estate, call 772-218-9600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust.  Call today.