For the average person, estate planning can appear somewhat intimidating given the fact that most of the terms and concepts are only used in the estate planning context. In fact, one of the most common reasons people give for not having an estate plan in place is that they don’t know where to start. The best way to g started with your estate plan, and to get specific questions answered, is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. In the meantime, however, a Los Angeles estate planning attorney has offered to provide answers to five common estate planning questions in the hope that doing so makes the idea of creating an estate plan a bit less intimidating.
- When should I start estate planning? A common belief is that estate planning only becomes important when you reach a certain age, marry, or become a parent. The truth, however, is that you do not need to attain a specific age nor do you need to wait until a specific event occurs in your life to create your estate plan. Every adult, regardless of age or family status can benefit from having a comprehensive estate plan in place.
- Don’t I need a large estate to justify creating an estate plan? This is another myth surrounding the issue of estate planning. No, you do not need a large and/or valuable estate to justify the need for an estate plan. You probably worked hard to acquire or build up the assets you currently have. Whether they are monetarily valuable or not is irrelevant. What matters is that it matters to you what happens to those assets when your die. If you don’t want the State of California deciding what happens to your assets when you are gone, you need an estate plan.
- What should be included in my estate plan? The other reason that your age and the value of your estate should not determine the need for an estate plan is that a comprehensive estate plan will focus on much more than simply the distribution of your estate assets when you die. For example, if you are the parent of a minor child, you will likely want to include strategies and tools in your plan that protect your child in the event anything happens to you. Other common additions to a well thought out estate plan include, but are not limited to:
- Incapacity planning
- Probate avoidance
- Medicaid planning
- Retirement planning
- Business succession planning
- How often should I review and revise my plan? Once you have an estate plan in place it will need to be reviewed on a regular basis as well as when life events call for it. Most estate planning attorneys suggest reviewing your plan every three to five years throughout your working years. Major life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child, or a move to a new state, should also prompt a review of your plan.
- How much will creating an estate plan cost? One mistake you want to avoid is the temptation to try and save time and money by going the “Do-It-Yourself” route using legal forms found on the internet. DIY estate planning forms are frequently out of date, riddled with errors, and fail to accomplish what they claim they can accomplish. The end result is often an estate that spends months, even years, in litigation during the probate of the estate. To find out how much it will cost to have a professional estate planning attorney help you with your estate plan will require a consultation given the highly personal nature of estate planning. In the long run, however, the money you spend having a professional assist you with the creation of your plan will almost always be less than your loved ones would spend litigating the estate if you went the DIY route.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about creating your estate plan, consult with an experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorney. Contact the experienced California estate planning attorneys at Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to schedule an appointment.