Have you ever wondered what happens to your things after you die? Many mistakenly think homes, cars, bank accounts and everything else automatically passes to their family but unfortunately, life isn’t so simple . Even if you don’t have cars, homes, or heafty bank account, you still have an “estate” and you can’t take it with you when you die. An estimated 55% of Americans don’t have an estate plan which amounts to more than a $2 billion probate industry… money that the families of these individuals missed out on due to poor planning and misinformation.
What is Probate?
If you do not have a plan for your assets and those assets are worth more than $150,000 (think cars, home, brokerage accounts, etc) the state will provide one for you by the name of “Probate”. This means that your family will need to go to court and prove to a judge that they are entitled to the things you’ve left behind and the judge will dictate how those assets are distributed. Unfortunately, Probate is not a free service kindly provided by the state to help your family navigate these turbulent waters. The assistance of a probate attorney will be needed and the court will appoint a personal representative who will also charge a fee, neither of which come cheap. The higher value of your estate, the higher fee the probate attorney and personal represntative charge for their services. Even if your estate is worth less than $150,000, Probate still occurs though the process and time is simplified. By way of example, a $200,000 estate would pay approximately $7,000 to the probate attorney and $7,000 to the personal representative. A $1,000,000 estate pays apprximately $23,000 to the probate attorney and an additional $23,000 to the personal representative. These fees don’t even include the filing fees and additional expenses of the court proceeding itself. THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!
Estate Planning 101
With the right tools, Probate can be avoided entirely and the automatic transfer of your assets to your family can be a reality. A Living Trust is just one of the valuable tools available in your estate planning arsenol allowing your hard earned assets to pass down to whomever you choose, and no one you don’t. The right estate planning enables you to control your assets exactly as you do today with little or no restrictions, protect your assets from creditors and preditors, and most importantly, allow peace of mind that your family won’t be burdened by the demands of Probate.
Many are wary of estate planning due to fears of high costs or the misguided thinking that trust planning is just a government loophole. Would you rather have your assets pay for probate after you pass, taking valuable time and money from the hands of your loved ones, or plan for your estate today for a fraction of the cost of probate? And as far as loopholes go, trust planning has been around since the 1700’s and has no indications of going away any time soon.
When to Start
No one likes to think of their own mortality and many avoid estate planning altogether due to this fear. However, even the advancement of medicine and increased longevity has not changed the innevitable. Plan for tomorrow today! Don’t wait for your family to be caught off-guard and unprepared when death strikes. You can change your estate plan at any time for any reason so why wait? Give yourself and your family peace of mind. Don’t let your hard earned assets go to court and administration fees instead of your loved ones.
Chatman Law Office will guide you through the maze of estate law and craft a plan to suit your unique needs. Contact us for more information (408)857-1217. Just as you wouldn’t trust your doctor to repair your car engine, don’t trust your assets to a DIY Estate Plan. Always seek the advice of a legal professional specializing in estate planning.