If you don’t have a good estate plan, Uncle Sam, your state treasurer and an attorney or two, a group of people who you least want to be involved in your affairs, may be the happiest beneficiaries when you pass away.
Individuals who die without a will or estate plan are said to die intestate. If you die intestate, the State in which you died determines how your assets will be distributed. In most circumstances, your home, properties, vehicles, belongings, bank accounts, investments and even retirement—all go into probate. All fifty states have laws concerning intestate succession and probate.
Laws in effect at the time of death, determine who the heirs are and hence who receives your money and property—not you unless you have an estate plan.
Without an estate plan, family will have a much more difficult time navigating the process of probate.
So, do you need an attorney, an accountant, both?
“Many people believe that a simple ‘Last Will’ would suffice when it comes to distribution of your estate after you are gone. However, since ‘Wills’ do not help you one bit if you become incapacitated and they don’t avoid probate, most people discover that a ‘Last Will’ alone is not enough,” said Daniel Leonhardt, owner of Lansdowne based American Family Estate Planners.
“With some simple planning, we can avoid the involvement of the probate courts, protect your wishes if incapacitated and eliminate most of the family squabbles,” said Leonhardt.
15 years and over 8,000 estate planning seminars make Leonhardt and his associates tremendously experienced in estate planning.
“Our entire team is committed to meeting your needs. We use only qualified estate planning attorneys to create every estate plan which is customized for each client,” said Leonhardt.
Leonhardt has been an estate planning consultant to thousands of clients from California to Virginia over the past 15 years.
Leonhardt started American Family Estate Planners with a desire to help people maintain control of their assets and pass them efficiently along to their heirs without court interference and costly attorney fees that are associated with the probate process.
Estate Planning is the process of considering, and setting up legally effective arrangements designed to preserve your estate, ensure continuity of management of your affairs in case of incapacity, avoid probate, distribute your estate efficiently and effectively, minimize or prevent disputes and challenges to your wishes and minimize potential taxes and fees.
Estate planning coordinates what happens to your home, savings, investments, businesses and retirement assets while you are alive and after you die.
Who needs an Estate Plan?
Everyone says Leonhardt.
“Whether your estate is large or small, either way you should designate someone to manage your assets and make health care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so for yourself,” said Leonhardt. “A simple Will along with Powers of Attorney may be sufficient to distribute a very small estate. In today’s world, however, the use of Revocable Living Trusts is increasingly more common.”
Who Needs a Living Trust?
Leonhardt describes that married couples or single parents with minor children, anyone who owns real estate, anyone who desires that assets be held “In Trust” and distributed to heirs according to special terms or when others turn certain ages.
But it doesn’t stop there. Anyone with special needs children, married couples in a second marriage who want to protect children of a first marriage, business owners and domestic partners.
There are many advantages of a Living Trust.
“A Revocable Living Trust can safeguard your assets during your lifetime and beyond. Avoid the expense, delays & publicity of probate, may reduce or eliminate estate taxes and can ensure the proper use of your assets long after you are gone,” said Leonhardt. “It can provide appropriate income for your heirs prevent court control of assets in the event of your incapacity, protect special needs dependents, protect minor children from court imposed guardianships and minimize emotional stress.”
Leonhardt holds free seminars at his office in Lansdowne every several months. This week he holds three seminars beginning Wednesday, November 8th at 10am. The next is Thursday, November 9th at 2pm, and then Saturday, November 11th at 11am.
Registration is easy, just call American Family Estate Planners at 1-800-906-0317.
American Family Estate Planners offices are located at 44084 Riverside Parkway Suite 120 Lansdowne, VA 20176.