Many people have a misconception about estate planning. For example, many will avoid doing their estate planning because they believe their assets “aren’t worth much” and think estate planning would be a waste of time and money. The reality is that estate planning is necessary for everyone — no matter the value of their assets. Completing your estate planning now with an attorney that regularly practices in the estate planning area to clearly define your intentions is an investment which will likely save your family financial and emotional heartache in the future.
While you may want to live forever, there is a strong likelihood that you will not make it out of this life alive. Estate planning allows you to clarify what is to happen with your assets once you have passed away. As you think about your estate planning there are a few things to consider: 1) Beneficiaries who will receive assets from you, i.e., spouse, children, other close family members and friends, or charities; 2) Property that will be affected by the planning, such as real property, personal property, as well as financial accounts and investments; and 3) Distribution of the properties to the beneficiaries.
The decisions made in the estate planning process are very important, and it is essential that the attorney you work with has experience drafting trusts, wills and related documents in order to properly plan with the least risk of contention at death. The experience an attorney gains through continued work in the estate planning area will help that same attorney provide specialized solutions for the client’s planning goals. Several years ago, I read an Associated Press article about United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger and the problems he left behind because he wrote his own Will. The point in bringing this up is not to disparage the Chief Justice who was a renowned jurist and a smart attorney, but to point out that even a smart attorney who does not regularly practice in the estate planning area should seek competent assistance from an attorney who does.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help guide you through the estate planning process and avoid the pitfalls of ambiguous language and directions. Whether you want to divide your estate equally between beneficiaries or leave a little something extra to someone special, your estate planning attorney can craft documents allowing you to be as creative as you wish — while adhering to the basics of what is required and making sure you are clear in your directions. The last thing you want to leave is a legacy of internal strife among family members who challenge your estate planning documents.
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services. Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site www.jensenbayles.com or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles or Phillip G. Gubler. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice.