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Estate Planning FAQ

December 22, 2014

Did you know that you have an estate? It’s true! Not the sort of estate that contains a large house and lots of land in the countryside, but an estate made up of everything you own. All of your money and property blend together to create your estate, so the term stretches and shrinks depending on the person. But even if your assets and property are modest, you have an estate and estate planning should be on your radar. If you’re having trouble understanding estate planning, you’re in the right place. For some quick answers to common questions, check out our list of estate planning FAQs.

Estate Planning FAQ

What is estate planning?  Estate planning is a process in which a person decides who will receive their property and assets after their death, and when and how the property will be transferred. Estate planning also helps people plan for contingencies. For example, if you become disabled and are unable to make decisions, who will take care of your financial affairs? Who will make health decisions for you? Who will have access to your private information? Or, if you and your spouse pass away, who will become your child’s guardian? In creating an estate plan, you’re preparing and protecting your family’s future. Who needs estate planning? Since everyone has an estate, everyone needs estate planning. Some people assume only the rich and elderly need to create estate plans, but that is a misconception. Everyone needs to prepare for the future, and estate planning can help you bestow your assets upon the right people, avoid taxes and probate, and address issues that are important to you before it’s too late. How much does estate planning cost? Unfortunately, we can’t give you a straight answer. Each estate plan is different and attorneys’ fees vary. Some attorneys charge flat rates, while others charge by the hour, and most will offer a free initial consultation. Understand you are paying for the attorney’s expertise, experience, and valuable advice, not just their time. What will my estate plan include?  Your specific goals, life plans, assets, and preferences will determine what your estate plan includes. Your plan might include trusts, a last will and testament, powers of attorney, living wills, and beneficiary deeds. Consult with an attorney to find out which of these tools will be helpful in your specific situation. What is probate If you’ve looked into estate planning at all, you’ve probably come across the term probate and learned that you should try to avoid it. Probate is a legal process in which a will is recognized after a person’s death. The will must be proved valid, the person’s property must be inventoried and appraised, debts and taxes must be paid, and then the property must be distributed as the will directs. Probate can be an expensive, lengthy process, which is why most people try to avoid it. If you aren’t sure how to address or avoid probate within your estate plan, consult an attorney.

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For more estate planning FAQ and answers, check out these previous blog posts:

If you need help creating your estate plan and you live in southwest Missouri, contact the attorneys at LifeGen Law Group. We would be happy to help you build or update your estate plan. Give us a call at 417-823-9898 or click here to schedule a free consultation.