Estate Planning: What happens to assets after you die?
Retirement and end of life matters are never easy to think about, but it is a necessary task. You don't want to leave heirs fighting each other and the court system. But also, thinking about and planning for these things can have an immediate impact on your life. It all depends on you, your assets, and your goals.
At Tinkler Law LLC, we provide comprehensive estate planning for our clients. We listen to what you want to do. We review your assets and other information thoroughly to determine the best options to accomplish your goals. And we create the estate plan according to Maryland estate laws. Contact estates and trusts attorney Muriel Tinkler to discuss what an estate plan can do for you and your loved ones.
WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?
Nearly all of us have an "estate." It's not what some would imagine it to be: a large house on a large property. Estates, more accurately, consist of what anyone owns, like:
- personal property (e.g., jewelry, heirlooms, fine art)
- homesteads and vacation homes
- other real estate properties
- life insurance
- bank and other financial accounts
- digital accounts.
Whether or not you have all these things does not matter, it suffices that the combination of what you own is your estate. Who gets what is up to Maryland's intestacy laws unless you have an estate plan. This plan can be as simple as an uncomplicated will and last testament or it can be complex and include a number of options, like:
- powers of attorney
- living wills
- health care proxies
- HIPAA releases
- life insurance policies
- limited liability companies (LLCs)
- prenuptial agreements.
Through these things, an estate plan allows you to control who gets the things you own after you die. By control, you not only determine who gets what but when and how they get it. You can set conditions and terms.
What's more: a comprehensive estate plan also allows you to control what happens to you if you become incapacitated and cannot make financial and medical decisions. If you have minor children, it also allows you to state what happens to your children.
WHY IS ESTATE PLANNING IMPORTANT?
As already implied, planning your estate is important for multiple reasons, names:
- It helps you control what happens to your property upon your death.
- It helps you make sure your children – minor children especially – are cared for.
- It allows you to control end-of-life decisions before you have to make them.
- It can help your heirs avoid probate court after you have died.
- It allows you to be prepared for the unexpected as well as the expected.
An estate plan is so much more than these things, too. For some of you, it can provide benefits, like tax savings.
Trusts are advanced estate planning tools that allow you to benefit (e.g., tax savings) today while your heirs benefit tomorrow. Trusts allow you to maintain privacy upon your death and save on probate – probate is a matter of public record and can be costly, but a trust will keep your assets private as they pass to your heirs and avoid probate and creditors.
Trusts also allow you to control when and what the beneficiary can do with the funds, which is important if you want, for example, your loved one to attend college prior to receiving trust funds or want to help manage how the funds are used if your loved one has a history of poor money management.
Speaking to an estate and trust attorney in Baltimore is important – you can make sure your estate plan reflects your family and business goals now and after you have died.
WHO NEEDS AN ESTATE PLAN?
Pretty much every adult can benefit from an estate plan. The complexity of the estate plan will mirror the nature of your assets and property. For someone with less than $50,000, then all you may need is a will and/or a living will or health care proxy – depending on circumstances – while others may require advanced estate planning tools, like trusts and LLCs.
The end of the matter, however, is this: if you want to control who gets what, when, and how, you need an estate plan.
WHO TO CONTACT IN THE BALTIMORE METRO AREA TO HELP YOU WITH ESTATE PLANNING?
If you need an estate plan or want to set up a trust, contact attorney Muriel Tinkler today either online or at 401-891-5820. She has the knowledge and experience to help create a comprehensive estate plan or meaningful trust that matches your goals and complies with Maryland laws.