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Following on January's hints about taking charge of your life, I have included a bit more on the topic of making a will, probate and steps to get ready for the future.
When someone dies, there is a great deal of sadness and people struggle to cope. If your affairs are in order, it will be a great deal less stressful on the family left behind. It is never too early to consult an attorney to discuss this subject. You can also check for information online and download forms that are available in the area that you live.
In the USA, almost two-thirds of Americans do not have a will. It is up to the judge and the laws of that state to determine the distribution of their assets and belongings should they pass away unexpectedly. If you do not make these important decisions, basically, you are leaving someone else to make the decisions for you. These may not be in the best interests of your family and may fail to meet their future needs. A thoughtful estate plan takes your priorities into account, protects your heirs, and establishes your legacy.
To begin making a plan or updating a plan you already have, you will need to know the current value of all your assets. For many of us, our home, is the largest investment we make. You or a real estate agent can make a comparative market analysis, (CMA) using properties that have already been listed and sold in your area. This gives you a fairly good idea of the worth of your property.
Probate is the means by which state courts validate a will and clear the executor to pay debts, and taxes, sell property, distribute funds, and perform tasks necessary to settle an estate. It can be a lengthy and expensive process especially when there are disputes, which add to the legal fees. A probate can take up to 3%-7% if the value of the estate.
This document provides for the care of minor children by establishing guardianship and stipulates how you want your remaining assets to be divided amongst your heirs. An executor is named to oversee the distribution of assets and pay any taxes, debts or other obligations that are due.
This is a separate legal entity that is structured to hold assets which you can transfer to it. Trusts help prevent financial uncertainty, delays, & family discord after death by directing the prompt distribution of the estate. Unlike a will, the contents of a trust typically avoid probate and are also kept private. They can also be held to reduce taxes.
Hopefully you will enjoy a sense of well-being knowing you have taken care of the future of your assets and how they should be distributed
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