Estate Planning is Necessary for Everyone.
Do Not Put Your Family’s Future at Risk By Failing to Plan.
The old adage “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” is never more true than in the area of estate planning. Ensuring that your loved ones are protected in the event that you die or become incapacitated is critical to your family’s success. In addition, making sure that your wishes will be respected should something happen to you can only be accomplished through proper estate planning.
The Kueser Law Firm provides various types of estate planning services to its clients. Whether you need a Will, Living Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney, The Kueser Law Firm can help by working with you and your other advisers (CPA, financial adviser, etc.) or with you directly to make sure the proper estate plan is in place to protect you and your family.
Do You Have a Will or Trust?
If Yes, When Was the Last Time You Reviewed Your Will or Trust With an Attorney?
The most basic Estate Planning tools are: (1) a Last Will and Testament (a “Will”), and (2) a Living Trust (a “Trust”).
A Will is a legal declaration by which a person (“Testator”), names one or more persons to manage his/her estate by which he/she provides for the transfer of his/her property at death. A Will can also provide for who takes care of the Testator’s children and, in some cases, how their property is to be managed for the benefit of their children.
If you die without a Will, you will be declared to have died “Intestate” and your property will be divided according to the law of the state in which you live. This process will be subject to oversight by the state’s probate court. Most people fail to understand that the probate court may be required to divide their property in a way that is different from what they would want. In addition, the court may place your children with a family member who is not the person that you would choose if given the choice. The good news is that you have the ability to make this choice — however, it does require that you take action.
Therefore, four main reasons to have a Will are:
- To avoid Intestacy and having the State decide who receives your property;
- To appoint an Executor whom you trust to handle how your property is disributed among your heirs;
- To appoint a Guardian for your children; and
- To appoint a Guardian or Trustee to administer and care for property for the benefit of your children
There are a variety of different types of Trusts. The most common is an instrument (document in writing) that creates a “being” that is capable of holding, managing, and distributing property. A Trust can be used during life and after death to hold, manage, and distribute property for the benefit of one or more people.
A number of good reasons exist to have a Trust. Among these are the following:
- Create a customizable estate plan for your family;
- Establish control over your property while you are alive;
- Establish control over property you give to others, including who, what, and when;
- Flexibility, as a Trust remains dynamic because you can always change the provisions that pertain to your share of the trust assets;
- Completely avoid the probate process, thereby transferring assets more quickly and avoiding the time and expense usually occurring with probate;
- Keep your assets and wishes private (unlike a Will, a Trust is a private document and is not generally public record);
- Have the ability to provide uninterrupted management of your estate even if you and your spouse become incapacitated;
- Uniformity wherever you live — a Living Trust is valid in every state;
- Deferral of, or complete elimination of, Federal estate taxes without having to make charitable donations from the estate; and
- The trust can utilize federal estate tax exemptions allowed for both the husband and the wife, thus maximizing applicable credit(s).
Are you a Parent? What Will Happen To Your Children If You Die or Become Incapacitated? Are you Sure?
Often the most compelling reason that causes someone to prepare a will or trust is their children. As a parent, you understand the responsibility you have to your family. Part of that responsibility is making sure that you have made the necessary arrangements to protect your children and your family if something were to happen to you. People often fail to make these arrangements for bad reasons or based on poor assumptions.
Some good questions to ask are:
- What would happen to my children if I were to become disabled?
- What would happen to my children if I die?
- Who would be responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of my children?
- Would my children have the necessary financial resources to ensure the same or similar quality of life that they currently have?
- If something were to happen to me, do I want my children to receive their share of my estate on their 18th birthday or do I want to have more control over when this happens?
Some people fail to plan because they feel the cost is too high. In truth, the cost of not planning is much greater than the cost to plan. The Kueser Law Firm has flexible billing options and reasonable rates. The firm’s goal is to make estate planning affordable for as many people as possible.
Do You Have a Living Will? Do you Have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and/or Financial Decisions?
What will happen if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself? Do you want to remain alive under life support if there is no reasonable expectation that medical technology will be able to revive you? Do you want your family to have to incur the financial burdens associated with keeping you alive under these circumstances? A Living Will is the best way for you to make and document your wishes.
In addition, every person should consider what would happen if they were no longer able to make decisions on their own. By executing a Durable Power of Attorney, you can designate the circumstances under which someone else would be empowered to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf, and you can name the person (or persons) who would be able to make these decisions for you. Failure to have a Durable Power of Attorney could potentially leave you, and more importantly, your family, exposed to risks associated with having others make these decisions for you.
These documents are very inexpensive to prepare. However, the cost of not having a proper estate plan can be astronomical.
Are You a Business Owner? What Would Happen To Your Business If you Die or Become Incapacitated? Are You Sure?
The Kueser Law Firm can also help business owners with succession planning and other strategies to ensure that their company has the right tools in place so that there will be a seamless transition if something were to happen to the business owner and/or to protect the interests of a business owner’s family if there is a life-changing event. For more information, go to the firm’s Business Planning page.
Do not put off this essential planning.
The Kueser Law Firm Provides a Free Estate Planning Consultation. Therefore, It Costs You Nothing To Receive Answers to Your Questions.
There are probably many reasons why people put off estate planning. These reasons include the following:
- I do not need a will or trust. My family knows what I want to have happen if I die or become disabled.
- I do not have time to have a will or trust prepared.
- It costs too much to have a will or trust prepared.
- I do not like to think about dying.
- I do not like talking to lawyers.
- I am afraid of attorneys.
- The subject of wills and trusts is too complicated for me.
- I have a hard time making decisions. I cannot decide whether a will or trust is appropriate for me and/or who I want to give my belongings to if I die.
- I do not need a will or trust until I have children.
- Let my kids work it out between themselves.
- Let the government take it all!
- I am too young to die!
These are all poor reasons. Everyone dies. When someone dies, the amount of grief and sadness is often unbearable. Add to that the stress related to making necessary arrangements, and the last thing your heirs want (or need) to worry about is deciding how to divide up your belongings. This, of course, assumes that they would be allowed to do so. Dying without a will can put the state in control of how your belongings are divided — thereby stripping your children and grandchildren of that option.
The law requires that wills and trusts meet certain requirements. Therefore, it is important to work with an attorney in creating your estate plan.
Furthermore, estate planning addresses life-changing events other than death. In addition to death, Estate Planning addresses the following situations:
- You are involved in an accident or suffer an illness or other trauma and become incapacitated (unable to take care of your medical and/or financial affairs)
- You are put on “life support” as the result of an accident, illness, or trauma
- You are unable to take care of yourself and/or your children
If any of these occur, it is you and/or your family that have to bear the burden. In some cases, the courts may step in and direct how your affairs are to be handled. Therefore, the question is: Do you want to make these decisions or have someone make them for you?
Take a Few Minutes to Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney to Make Sure Your Family and/or Your Business Are Protected.
The Kueser Law Firm understands how important it is to its clients that make sure that their families and businesses are protected. The firm also understands that the idea of discussing estate planning is very uncomfortable and, as a result, often goes unaddressed or under-addressed. Failure to properly plan does not affect the individual; however, it drastically affects your family and others who depend on you. For their sake, take a few minutes to talk to an attorney to make sure your estate plan is in place and/or up to date.
The firm’s small size allows flexibility in working with clients and very competitive rates and billing arrangements. Please contact an attorney today to discuss your estate planning needs. You may also complete the form on this page and an attorney will contact you to discuss your estate planning situation.
If you are unsure about the answers to the questions above, please contact an estate planning attorney. If you would like to speak with The Kueser Law Firm, please call the firm at (816) 374-5865 or complete the form to the right and an attorney will contact you to discuss your estate planning questions.