If you die without a will in place, you are said to have died intestate. When you die intestate in Utah, a complex set of laws known as intestacy laws come into operation. These laws decide who gets what from your estate. Parts of your estate could end up in the hands of someone whom you never shared a good rapport with and someone very close to you could end up with absolutely nothing although you loved that person very much. The best way to prevent this from happening after your death is to have an estate planning device in place. Utah estate planning laws allow you to determine who get what from your estate. Speak to an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer to know how you can prevent your estate from ending up in the hands of someone who isn’t close to you.
It’s unfortunate how many people believe that estate planning is only for wealthy people. The truth is that people at all economic levels benefit from some kind of estate planning. Shoot, if all you have is a giant ball of string, there is probably someone you want to have it, or if you don’t, there are probably a bunch of cats at a shelter that would go nuts with the benevolent donation. Upon death, an estate plan legally protects and distributes your property based on your wishes and the needs of your family and/or survivors with as little tax penalty as possible. Consult with an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer to know more about the estate planning devices you can use to ensure that your loved ones get to enjoy your estate after your death.
A will is the most basic and practical first step in estate planning. It makes clear how you want your property to be distributed after you die. Otherwise, the aftermath of a funeral can resemble the combative interlude of a hockey game. If you want to draft a will, speak to an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer. The will must meet certain requirements under Utah law.
Writing a will can be as simple as typing out how you want your assets to be transferred to loved ones or charitable organizations after your death. If you don’t have a will when you die (known as dying intestate), your estate will be handled in probate, and your property could be distributed differently than what you would like. However, writing a will without the assistance of an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer can be a big mistake. Remember every will must go through probate before the transfer of your assets after your death become effective.
Attorneys may have a reputation for being expensive and difficult to deal with, but that is not necessarily accurate. As in any profession, there are some people you’ll relate to better than others. The legal field is no exception. And, in fact, an attorney who will take time to understand your wishes and your adult child’s needs can become an important ally. Not only will he give you legal advice but you can count on him to follow up with the appointment of fiduciaries you choose to act for your child and to help them advocate for your child in the event of problems with carrying out the plan.
As with doctors, if you can’t relate to one and she won’t listen to you, choose another one. The same applies to attorneys. You will need the attorney to have a greater understanding of your family situation than some families may require. Thus, the relationship needs to work well to enhance that understanding. As with choosing any other professional, you won’t learn much about a person from a yellow pages listing. It’s better, if possible, to get a referral from friends or family members who have used that attorney. Additionally, some agencies have lists of attorneys who have been helpful to their clients. Some attorneys will speak at support groups and you may get a chance to hear them before scheduling an appointment.
Some tips on working with a lawyer
Lawyers can be expensive, and, given all the costs of taking care of your child, that can be a challenge. However, there are options:
• We do not charge for the first visit. When you go to that visit, be up front about what you can afford and see if you can negotiate something affordable for you.
• Depending on where you live, there may be legal clinics that are free or discounted based on income. An added advantage of this is that there may be a young attorney starting out by working in the legal clinic. Later he may start his own practice and take some of his special clients along at a reduced rate.
One of the best ways to reduce the cost is to prepare for the visits. If the attorney sends forms to complete, be sure to complete them and bring them to the appointment. If you don’t get such forms, you can create a sheet with basic information such as:
• Name and spouse’s name (if any), address, phone number.
• Children, including stepchildren, and their ages.
• Disability of your child(ren) and brief statement about future planning needs.
• Be sure to include any governmental benefits that your child(ren) receive; estate plans must take those into consideration so that the plan itself won’t disqualify your child from receiving services.
• Financial information (your assets, property, income, extraordinary expenses).
As stated, a plan for your child is more involved than a standard estate planning document. However, you will want your attorney to be somewhat aware of the plan because he can assist or provide information to others when you can’t be available to do that.
If you create an estate-planning file or notebook, it would be a good idea to take it with you sometime when you visit your attorney. Obviously, you don’t want to spend a lot of billable hours on it, and the file doesn’t need to be left with the attorney. However, having a look at a day in your adult child’s picture schedule, for example, could make a big difference in the attorney’s ability to better understand him and his needs as the estate planning documents are being written.
Ask your experienced Utah probate how often you need to come back for revisions to your estate-planning documents. Some attorneys will recommend yearly or every-other-year visits. Others may say every five years is enough. You can negotiate the frequency. Also, ask what kinds of things would require a change in your estate-planning documents. That way you will understand when you should come back, beyond the regular visits you negotiated with the attorney.
Your attorney will be one of the best protections for your adult child. If you take the time to find an attorney whom you can relate to and provide some opportunity for the attorney to understand your adult child’s needs, he can be your voice for your child when you can’t be there.
Estate planning can involve creating a trust or a living trust, which are not the same thing.
Trust: A trust holds legal title to property and administers the property according to the instructions in the document. The legal document designates a trustee u a person or corporation u to manage the property. If you create a trust, you are the “grantor” or “settlor” or “trustor.” Those who receive income or property from the trust are called “beneficiaries.”
Living trust. A living trust is created while you are alive and is revocable, which means it can be changed, amended or terminated. When you set up a living trust, you transfer your assets to the trust, which is then considered the owner of the assets. There will be no probate when you die because you don’t own the assets. You can be the trustee of your living trust and use or invest the trust fund as you wish. The living trust will name a trustee to take over managing the assets if you become incapacitated. The trust will contain instructions for asset distribution after you die, just as a will would.
Simply executing a living trust will not materially affect the disposition of your assets, will not save death taxes and may not reduce costs after your death. However, a well-prepared living trust as part of your overall estate plan has many benefits that could help you reach your estate planning goals. Your experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer can help you decide if a living trust fits your needs.
Ignoring the People Side of Planning
Preoccupation with all the technical questions involving laws, and taxes and paperwork does not mean your support network is in place.
In today’s complex world your estate plan must have three roles filled by people you specifically designate: a financial adviser, an accountant and an attorney.
Select these advisers carefully, and include them in your planning, so everyone is ready well in advance of a disability or death.
Planning Driven by Tax and Probate Avoidance versus Distribution
There is an art to putting together a distribution plan that makes sense for both your estate and your heirs.
For example, should a college student inherit everything in one lump sum or would staggered payments be more prudent? Distribution timing, incentives and disincentives, and asset protection for unexpected disasters carry implications which go far beyond the typical desires of avoiding taxes and probate. Speak to an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer to understand all this before you take a final decision.
Distributing Based on Percentages Instead of the Real Dollars/Assets
Estate planning requires accurate calculation of assets. Using true numbers allows you to consider how much inheritance is enough and what is to be done with what is left.
Should funds be delineated for specific uses — such as education — and should there be incentives for assets left in trust for following generations? Thoughtful distribution entails more than an exercise in mathematical percentages.
UNDER-insuring (or OVER-insuring):
While no one likes to pay for insurance which may never be used, the risk of under-insuring is shortsighted thinking in estate planning. Older people, on the other hand, are often over-insured because they have continued to pay for policies after the need for them is over. The bottom line here is that insurance, when used correctly, is an extremely helpful tool in estate planning.
Relying on the Wrong Agents for the Wrong Reasons
Executors, trustees and those with power of attorney assume responsibilities that are critical to the successful transfer of assets from one generation to the next. Yet not everyone is equally skilled, or able, to handle these duties.
Best friends, adult children and even well-meaning family members are rarely able to act as knowledgeably or cost effectively as an institutional trustee. I recommend people at least consider this solution before going forward with purely emotional selections.
Before you decide who should be in charge of executing your estate planning, seek an appointment with an experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer.
Failing to Title & Designate Beneficiaries Wisely
This is the single most common mistake made in estate planning. The number of unintended probates is scandalous simply because assets are inadvertently left out of plans, or beneficiary lists are not kept current. No one knows when an estate plan will go into effect so it should always be accurate and ready.
Estate planning is a process, not a one-time event. As people move forward, and life-changes occur, all plans become stale and out of date. At least once every five years it is important to review, evaluate and update estate plan documents and designations according to your current financial and family situations.
An experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer will advise you on how often you need to review your estate planning devices. You should immediately get in touch with your experienced American Fork Utah probate lawyer if your circumstances change. Remember you can always change your estate planning devices.
American Fork Utah Probate Attorney Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a probate case in American Fork Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506