Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?
If you have any assets, regardless of age, income or net worth, you should work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney and make plans for your estate. Why? Because failing to plan for your estate can leave a large mess for your family and loved ones to deal with after you die.
Also, if you haven’t created your own estate plan, Arizona has created one for you, by establishing the laws that direct where your assets will be distributed and who will handle your affairs if you become incapacitated or pass. Of course, you may not agree with what the Arizona legislature has planned for your assets. This is how failing to create your own estate plan could subject your family to costly and time-consuming legal proceedings under Arizona laws.
Lastly, failing to create an estate plan often ends up costing your family more money than if you had invested in a quality estate plan in the beginning. Remember, an estate plan is not technically for you, it is for your family and loved ones. One goal of estate planning is to make sure that your wealth and assets go to those that you intend with a particular emphasis on minimizing taxes so that your beneficiaries can keep more of your wealth.
What Does An Estate Plan Do?
An estate plan is a set of documents that control what happens to you and your assets if you become incapacitated or die.
What Documents Are Included In An Estate Plan?
An estate plan typically consists of a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Directives (including Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Mental Healthcare Powers of Attorney, and Livings Wills).
In addition, many people choose to create a Living Trust, which can provide many benefits from avoiding the cost and stress of a drawn-out probate proceeding, to controlling the distribution of assets for minor beneficiaries, ensuring the money is used for beneficial things such as education, health and maintenance. Trusts can also provide protection to beneficiaries from creditors, lawsuits and even possible future divorces.
Last Wills and Testaments can provide specific direction regarding distribution of property, provide detailed instruction for burial and/or cremation, and most importantly, name guardians for minor children. A properly established Durable Power of Attorney can avoid a costly conservatorship proceeding by naming an agent to handle financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney can avoid a costly guardianship proceeding by appointing an agent to make healthcare decisions for you, while a Living Will allows you to provide detailed instructions to your family and loved ones in the event of an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state.
Keep in mind, in estate planning, there is not one legal document that is more important than the rest. Instead, it’s important to understand your assets, your needs, and the needs of your family before putting together an estate plan that ensures your final wishes are followed.
Who Can Help Me With An Estate Plan?
We understand that you may be tempted by the relatively low cost of do-it-yourself estate planning worksheets, however, the peace of mind that comes with the professional advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer is invaluable. The entire purpose of estate planning is to make sure your assets and dependents are properly cared for after you die. The legal mechanics of the numerous estate planning documents can be complicated and overwhelming, but Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC can help make the estate planning process simple and understandable. We can help by:
- Preparing and updating documents on your behalf
- Making sure that your documents comply with state laws
- Providing you legal advice on wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other designations
- Finding ways to avoid probate and unnecessary estate taxes
- Sorting out complicated family circumstances
- Providing your legal heirs and beneficiaries with legal advice after you pass
When Should I Start My Estate Plan?
We believe it’s best to start your estate plan before it’s needed. Many people begin their estate planning when they get married, begin to save money, buy property, have children or inherit family assets.
What Should I Consider Before Planning?
- Schedule a free consultation with Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC
- Determine the assets included in your estate
- Decide who your beneficiaries will be
- Determine which estate planning tools you wish to use
- Gather forms and asset information for your consultation
- Decide how you will store your new estate plan
We have also created a printable Estate Planning Questionnaire Form that you can review and fill out prior to your consultation. This form will help you gather and organize all relevant information for your new estate plan.
If you have any questions about planning your estate, the attorneys of Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC are here with answers. For more than 20 years, our estate planning attorneys have represented clients throughout Arizona. Our experienced legal staff is prepared to address your unique circumstances. We will listen carefully to your questions or concerns and craft a legal approach specifically tailored to you and your family. It’s time to protect your family’s financial future and schedule a free estate planning consultation today!
Robert Hobkirk is a partner at the law office of Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC. He represents clients in legal matters involving trusts and estates, wills, probate law, and estate litigation, among other areas. Click to read more.