Planning for the end of your life might not be easy, but it certainly is important. A well-developed estate plan could ensure that your final wishes are respected after your passing. You could develop a plan that determines how your wealth is distributed while also ensuring your needs are met when you cannot make healthcare decisions independently.
If you intend to create an estate plan, you could benefit from the advice of legal counsel. This process can be complex, and undertaking it on your own is difficult. Let a St. Cloud wills, trusts and probate lawyer from our team at Bogin, Munns & Munns answer your questions about the estate planning process.
Why Do I Need a Will?
When you begin the estate planning process, one of the first things your wills, trusts and probate attorney serving St. Cloud, Florida will do is prepare your last will and testament. This legal document will serve as the starting point for your estate plan.
Most people are familiar with wills. While most understand that a will is a plan for distributing your assets after your death, it is worth noting this document can also address many other issues.
Distributing Your Assets
The distribution of the wealth you accumulated during your life is one of the primary functions of your last will and testament. Before determining how your wealth will be divided, you first need to understand all of the assets you have at your disposal. Your St. Cloud wills, trusts and probate lawyer could account for your full estate, including:
- Real property
- Bank accounts
- Personal possessions
- Jewelry and art
- Stocks and bonds
Your estate can also consist of other assets not included in your will. Some assets have automatic beneficiaries and transfer ownership without probate. Some examples include payable-on-death accounts and life insurance policies.
Name an Executor
Wills typically name someone to serve as the executor of your estate. The executor is the individual in charge of overseeing your estate after you die. They generally prepare the will for probate, pay creditors, and oversee the distribution of assets. A will can name a specific person to fill that role.
If you have minor children, it is worth naming someone to serve as their guardian upon your passing. If you do not name a guardian for your children in your will, the state will appoint one, and it may not be someone you would have chosen.
Establish a Healthcare Directive
One of the roles your will can play beyond dividing your assets is establishing your healthcare directive. A separate document from a last will and testament, a living will describes your preferences about medical care in the event you become incapacitated. For example, if you are in a coma and not expected to survive, do you want to be put on life support or a feeding tube?
To consult with an experienced wills, trusts and probate lawyer serving St. Cloud, call 855-780-9986
What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
When you pass away with a will, that document will determine how your assets are distributed to your loved ones. But what if you do not have a will? In that case, your estate will still go into probate and your assets will be divided through a process known as intestate succession.
According to the Legal Information Institute, intestate succession is the process of distributing wealth to certain family members based on state statute. No matter your wishes, these family members will be entitled to inherit from you. Many people choose to set up an estate plan to ensure they get the final say. Your St. Cloud wills, trusts and probate attorney can help you with this process.
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The Benefits of Creating a Trust
As with wills, there are many reasons to ask your St. Cloud wills, trusts and probate attorney to create a trust as part of your estate plan. Options related to the distribution of your assets that you cannot accomplish with a will alone are possible through a trust. Some of the benefits of establishing a trust include:
When establishing an estate plan, many people attempt to avoid the probate process entirely. This process, which involves the court overseeing the distribution of your assets, is often long and costly. A trust could allow your beneficiaries to inherit immediately after your passing without going through probate.
When your estate goes into probate, it is handled in court proceedings open to the public. That is not the case when you rely on a trust. The public cannot see records related to the assets held in a trust.
When you rely exclusively on a will, you are limited to deciding who to give property to and how much they should receive. By relying on a trust, you could have greater control by adding conditions to those gifts. For example, you could release set amounts of money from the trust to a certain beneficiary over time.
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Your Estate Plan Could Avoid the Probate Process
Probate is the court process used to oversee the distribution of wealth after a person passes away. There are some notable downsides to the probate process. It can be costly and time-consuming for your loved ones, making it difficult to secure their inheritance. The process is also carried out in public, and the case’s outcome is public record. For these reasons, many people prefer to avoid the probate process.
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Let an Attorney Assist with Your Estate Plan in St. Cloud
Developing an estate plan could benefit you no matter what stage of life you are in. If you are concerned about what will happen after you are gone, making a plan could ensure your wishes are adhered to.
The St. Cloud estate planning attorneys at Bogin, Munns & Munns understand how important this process is. Our firm is ready to listen to your needs before developing a plan that is right for you. If you are ready to speak with a St. Cloud wills, trusts and probate lawyer, contact us for your consultation.
Call or text 855-780-9986 or complete our Request a Consultation form