No one likes to talk about what will happen after they die. Still, knowing that your assets will be distributed the way you wish and that your family will be cared for after your death can be a massive weight off your shoulders. Although many people believe that estate planning is very important, only 40% of Americans had a will, and only 17% had a trust in 2016.
If you are reading this page, it’s clear that you have started thinking about your estate plan.
Out of the number of Americans who don’t have a will, 34% created an estate plan blueprint in 2021. However, only two out of three of those people took steps beyond talking to their families, including researching online, writing down a plan, or consulting a lawyer.
Estate planning is for everyone, no matter your age or the size of your assets. “I don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone” remains the second most common reason to neglect estate planning, just behind simple procrastination. At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., we help all kinds of people get started with their estate planning blueprint. When you contact us, we will help you create a comprehensive strategy to ensure that you have the tools to secure your assets for the future.
What Is an Estate Plan Blueprint?
When you pass away, your assets may go to your family, friends, charity, or the government. With your estate plan blueprint, you will document what you want to happen with your assets, your dependents, and your healthcare costs when you pass away. Estate planning usually involves making a will, establishing a trust, arranging guardianship for your children, and preparing for estate taxes. Without an optimized estate plan, your assets could be tied up in probate for years, eaten up by taxes, or claimed by the government when you die.
How to Create an Estate Planning Blueprint
In its 2016 study, Wealth Counsel reported that 74% of respondents said estate planning is confusing. Nonetheless, 42% said that an attorney was the best source for information on estate planning, and they are right. Discussing your blueprint with an attorney can help guarantee that your plan aligns with your ultimate goals.
What to Consider in an Estate Plan Blueprint
Experts with experience in wills, trusts, Medicaid eligibility, and estate taxes recommend that your estate plan blueprint consider the following items.
As life goes on, your situation may change. You might get married or divorced, have children or grandchildren, or start a business. As your life situation changes, the needs of your estate will also change. Consider scheduling regular check-ins with your estate planning legal practitioner every two years. However, your check-ins are appropriate any time you experience a life event such as a birth or divorce.
The Implications of Leaving the Plan to Your Family
The planning you do now will save your family from problems later. Many people avoid spending money and time on a lawyer to ensure a thorough estate plan. But, thinking about the future can provide you with peace of mind in the present while also simplifying things for your heirs. While a professional trustee may charge a percentage of the trust’s assets, assigning a trustee now may reduce the need for your heirs to hire other estate professionals, such as investment managers or bookkeepers.
An Assessment of the Available Options
Your estate planner can explain the pros and cons of the different estate planning tools, including the tax implications of various tools. For example, once you create an irrevocable trust, you cannot change or amend it. On the other hand, a revocable trust (which can be edited) does not offer the same tax advantages as the irrevocable trust. A knowledgeable lawyer can explain the trust agreement laws in your state.
Another option to consider is lifetime giving. In 2022, the IRS increased the unified exemption amount for lifetime and at-death gifts to $12.06 million per individual. If your estate is worth more than the threshold, you could give your friends or family tax-free gifts. So long as you give less than the gift tax annual exclusion ($16,000 for 2022), the IRS will not require you or the recipient to pay taxes on the gift.
A Professional Trustee
Another step is to consider the ability of your heirs to handle your estate. Are they competent, capable, or willing to serve as trustees? If your estate is complex, they may not have the time, desire, or ability to act as trustees. To save them the trouble, consider hiring a professional trustee.
A professional trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the trust and future beneficiaries. You may still be concerned about your family maintaining control of the trust. In that case, you can reserve the right to remove and replace a trustee, allowing your family some flexibility and freedom in managing your estate.
Notifying Your Beneficiaries of Your Plan
You don’t want to leave your family in the dark about your wishes and choices for your estate. While you don’t need to divulge every detail, inform your family about your estate plan and where they fit into it. Doing so can help avoid surprises, hurt feelings, and family feuds after your death. Give your heirs a general overview of your plan. Share information about who will be the trustees and executors of your estate.
Your Estate Planning Blueprint with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C.
Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin practices estate planning, elder law, and probate in New York City, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. He understands that your estate planning needs are unique. When you trust Andrew with your estate planning, you’ll receive personalized attention and a partner who will thoroughly explain your options. Whether you have extensive assets or a small estate to pass on, with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., your estate plan will effectively provide for your friends and family after your death. Contact us online.