The goals of estate planning can involve honoring the asset holder’s wishes for the distribution of assets after death and preserving divided assets. If not, adequately planned estate assets can be depleted through the probate process or subjected to creditor claims and tax liability.
Further, they must be structured in a way that transfers assets to their intended beneficiaries. Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all solution. Therefore, it is essential to consider the unique circumstances of the person requesting an estate plan.
Estate planners try to avoid probate to reduce costs and make the distribution of the estate proceed more quickly. These tools and strategies allow an estate asset to be transferred without the involvement of a probate court.
Of these goals, preserving estate assets is perhaps the most important. Lawyers are involved in this area. Estate planning lawyers must understand how federal and state tax law impacts how assets are transferred to beneficiaries.
For example, a lawyer should have a basic understanding of how the IRS taxes estates upon their transfer. Additionally, how the IRS taxes assets held in trust. In many ways, estate planners must engage in a game of avoiding tax traps when establishing an estate plan.
What is Estate Planning?
When an individual dies, they leave an estate. This consists of all real and personal property owned by an individual at the time of their death. Just as the old saying goes, “you can’t take money with you,” an individual’s estate is left behind. The estate must be managed and distributed.
Estate planning refers to the process through which an individual plans for the transfer of assets upon their death. An estate plan’s goal is to preserve the maximum amount of the estate as possible for the intended beneficiaries and heirs after paying creditors. Additionally, to satisfy any tax liability. An estate plan generally employs wills and trusts to preserve and transfer estate assets to beneficiaries and heirs. State law governs the creation, administration, and disposition of wills, trusts, and estates.
Why Consider Estate Planning?
Planners do consider the implications of state and federal tax law when estate planning. This is to minimize the tax liability of the estate and beneficiaries. Preserving wealth so that it can be passed on to heirs and beneficiaries it the goal of estate planning. Although there are several other tools, wills and trusts are the primary tools used in estate planning. Such as life insurance, advance directives, and durable power of attorneys wills and trusts accomplish the bulk of the work. The strategies the lawyer uses depends on the individual preferences and circumstances of the person whose estate is being planned.
Many people do not have a plan regarding what should happen when they die. The reason many do not prepare an estate plan rests on several factors. First, death and what should become of our worldly possessions are an uncomfortable topic. Because of this, most people who are among the living would rather not have the conversation.
A second reason most commonly found among individuals with children or other loved ones involves the sticky question of how to distribute their estate without starting a feud among those left behind.
Lastly, others who do not have an estate plan in place often point out the fact it is only for those with large estates. This misconception could not be further from the truth. Estate planning is valuable for estates of all sizes with many tools tailored explicitly for smaller estates.
What Services Does A Lexington Estate Planning Lawyer Offer?
Estate Planning provides a few simple goals which guide the entire process. The first goal is to preserve wealth so that it can be passed on to heirs and beneficiaries. The second goal makes sure to honor the wishes of the estate planner after his or her death. To accomplish these goals, we rely on several tools that can achieve the purpose of preserving the estate and honoring the estate owner’s wishes.
A will is a legal document that provides instructions as to the division of a person’s property after death. Only a valid and final will can be legally binding. The author of the will is considered to have died intestate if a will is contested and found invalid. When a person dies intestate, state law provides for intestate succession rules. This means the order of distribution in which an estate will distribute among heirs. In this case, the process of allocating the estate is overseen by a probate court.
Trusts provide a person with the option to place their property in the care of a third-party. With the possibility to be later given to a beneficiary. Learn more about trust administration.
In the event of incapacity, the advanced directive includes a living will or a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes concerning medical treatments.
The type of tool used will depend on several circumstances that relate to a client’s preference and financial events. For example, a client who anticipates needing end of life care or long-term care would undoubtedly want to consider advance directives. Whereas individuals who have more complex estates involving multiple types of assets or complex family situations may benefit from a trust or other arrangement that can be modified easily.
Why Avoid Probate?
An important consideration in estate planning involves avoiding probate. Therefore, planners will try to plan an estate so that the probate court will administer none or as few as possible estate assets. Probate property includes all estate assets that pass through a will or intestacy. Non-probate property is anything not subject to a will or intestacy. This means property in joint tenancy, life insurance, payable at death accounts, Inter Vivos trusts, small estates (estates under a set valuation).
Do you need a knowledgeable attorney to draft your estate planning documents? Discover how Lexington’s top estate planning lawyers have the necessary knowledge to create a comprehensive estate plan to meet your unique needs.
Drafting Estate Planning Documents
Drafting estate planning documents requires a high level of focus and the ability to honor the asset holder’s wishes. This includes the distribution of assets and preservation of divided assets after death. Therefore, without meticulous document drafting specific to your unique situation, estate assets may be subject to creditor claims, or tax liability. Additionally, they may be depleted during the probate process.
A qualified estate planning law firm in Lexington will draft all documentation to ensure the transfer of assets to the appropriate beneficiaries when the time comes. Not to mention, this will also help you to avoid probate. Asset transfer without South Carolina probate court involvement will reduce costs and expedite the estate distribution. All while meeting the asset holder’s objectives.
What Is Estate Planning Drafting?
Estate planning involves creating estate plan documents that allow an asset holder to prepare for asset transfer upon death. The goal is to draft documents in a way that enables the individual to preserve the maximum amount of the estate possible. As a result, to share with heirs and beneficiaries after satisfying existing tax liability and paying creditors.
Drafting includes the following documents:
- Wills and living wills
- Trusts and special needs trusts
- Health care power of attorney
- Property power of attorney
- Community property agreement
Before drafting the documents, a seasoned attorney will ask the right questions to determine the estate’s specific goals and the needs of beneficiaries. That is to say, by utilizing careful estate planning strategies from experienced attorneys, the asset holder can ensure the drafting of plans will effectively reduce estate and income tax liability. This is so they can share more of their wealth with loved ones.
Call A Lexington Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Avoiding probate is a vital strategy to reduce the reduction of estate assets and avoid deviation from the planner’s wishes. An experienced lawyer can guide clients to determine if avoiding probate is an appropriate estate planning approach. Additionally, professional document drafting for an estate provides asset holders with the best chance to achieve their desired outcomes.
If you or a loved one is seeking a reliable attorney for estate planning needs in South Carolina, the legal team at McCutchen McLean, LLC, is here to help. Call our Lexington law firm’s office at 803-785-4529.