Estate Planning FAQ
Estate planning is one of those topics that many people often put on the back burner, but it is crucial to ensuring that your legacy is protected and your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. It’s also natural to have questions about estate planning, which is why I have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand the basics.
If you have further questions, or if you need legal counsel for any estate planning matters, reach out to my firm, TdD Attorneys at Law, in St. Louis, Missouri, to get an opportunity to talk to a knowledgeable attorney.
Estate Planning FAQs
The list below contains some of the most frequently asked questions about estate planning.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a comprehensive collection of legal documents that outline your wishes for how your assets will be managed and distributed after your death. In addition, there are many other things that can be accomplished with an estate plan.
What can be accomplished with an estate plan?
An estate plan allows you to make important decisions about how your property should be distributed after you are gone, who will manage your assets, finances, and healthcare in the event of your incapacity, what medical treatments and procedures you want and do not want, and who will care for your minor children, among other things.
Who can benefit from having an estate plan?
Everyone, regardless of how much money or property they have, should have an estate plan in place. In other words, anyone who wants to protect their legacy and ensure that their loved ones are taken care of after their passing can benefit from having an estate plan. Nonetheless, many Americans still do not have an estate plan. A 2023 survey by Caring.com revealed that two-thirds of Americans have estate planning documents.
It is especially crucial for individuals with children, those with significant assets, and those who have specific wishes for medical care and end-of-life matters.
When is the right time to start creating an estate plan?
Contrary to popular belief, it is never too early or too late to start creating an estate plan. The best time to start is when you have assets to protect and wishes to be carried out after your passing. Waiting until you grow older or develop health issues can make the estate planning process more complex and time-consuming.
What happens if I do not create an estate plan?
If you do not have an estate plan in place, your property will be subject to probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, the state will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not include your wishes, not to mention that without an estate plan, there will be no one designated to make decisions regarding your medical care or manage your assets if you become incapacitated.
What documents can an estate plan contain?
An estate plan can be comprised of several legal documents such as a will, trust, power of attorney, and medical directives, among others. It is vital to seek legal counsel to determine which documents you need as part of your estate plan to accomplish your specific goals.
Is creating an estate plan expensive?
The cost of creating an estate plan can vary depending on factors like the complexity of the plan, the size of your estate, and the attorney’s fees. However, keep in mind that while creating an estate plan may be an expense, it can save you and your loved ones from paying even more money in legal fees, taxes, and probate court costs.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process during which a court validates a will and authorizes the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. If you die without a will, your estate would still go through the probate process, but the court would distribute your assets according to state law. Probate can be time-consuming and costly, so you will need to work with an attorney to minimize or avoid this process.
When should I update my estate plan?
It is imperative that you update your estate plan regularly to keep up with changes in your life situation. Examples of when you need to update your estate plan include getting married or divorced, having children or grandchildren, selling or acquiring assets, moving to a different state, or having significant changes in your financial situation.
Do I need an attorney to help me with estate planning?
Seeking the assistance of an attorney is important to ensure that everything is legally binding and that your wishes are carried out accordingly. An attorney can help minimize the chances of legal disputes among your beneficiaries, advise you of the estate planning solutions necessary for your situation, and direct you through the estate planning process from start to finish.
Ready to Start Planning? Contact TdD Attorneys at Law
Creating an estate plan can feel like a daunting and depressing task. However, with the help of an estate planning attorney, the process becomes less stressful and easier to overcome. If you are ready to start planning for your future, contact my firm, TdD Attorneys at Law, and request a consultation.