Why an Estate Plan?
When some people hear the word "estate," they think of an English Tudor home tucked in a beautifully landscaped countryside with horses grazing nearby and a luxury car parked in the circular driveway. That's not what we mean. Everyone who owns any property at all has an estate. Actually, your estate is anything you own: your car, your bank account, or that English Tudor home. Estate planning, then, involves planning to take care of yourself and your property, both during your life and after your death.
At Roberson Law we are concerned that too many people and families do not have an estate plan. Not planning can have very serious consequences, some of which we will later discuss. There are several reasons why people do not have an estate plan. The primary reason is that people do not want to think or talk about disability and death. They suspect that planning for disability and death will make them happen. Actually, the opposite is true. People who are able to confront their fears openly and honestly are physically, psychologically, and spiritually healthier, and therefore less likely to die or become disabled, than those who procrastinate planning because of their fears, because unresolved conflict can produce illness.
Another major reason why people do not plan is because they think that planning will cost them a fortune. In reality, a thorough estate plan is a modest investment compared to all of the costs that can be incurred without a plan. Costs are greatly increased if a person fails to plan or plans improperly, because legal fees are expensive. Thousands of dollars are lost to families because of inadequate or improper planning.
Another reason why people don't plan for the future is because they don't know how they want to arrange their affairs. No decision is really a decision, though. If you don't make arrangements for yourself, someone will have to make them for you, and who makes these arrangements and how they are made may not be to your liking at all. Many people find that just getting started with their estate plan seems to help them decide what to do. Contact our experienced team to begin the process today!
Estate and Asset Protection Planning
Many people have non-traditional family arrangements and they too want to ensure that their loved ones are provided for in the event of their death or disability. Through the preparation of custom tailored documents, our staff can create a plan for your unique situation to assure that upon your death or disability, your loved ones will be provided for in a manner that gives you peace of mind.
Planning to Minimize Estate Taxes
One common misconception is that when you die, you are no longer responsible for paying taxes. Paying the dreaded Federal estate tax, also called the "death tax", is often an unavoidable part of estate administration. However, there are strategies that one can take to help substantially minimize the Federal estate tax, which is an area that our staff has many years of experience working.
Planning for Children with Special Needs
Many people who have children or grandchildren with special needs have the desire to set up a Special Needs Trust so that the financial benefits or financial aid that the child receives due to his or her disability is not discontinued or altered in the event that the child receives an inheritance.
For many years, our firm has partnered with the Disability Foundation (DF) to help families with special needs children do estate planning. According to the DF, “If a person with disabilities is receiving governmental assistance, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the receipt of a family inheritance or lump sum can result in the termination of eligibility for assistance...” It is for that reason why we strongly suggest that anyone who is planning to leave an inheritance to a person with special needs is especially cautious in who they hire to prepare their estate planning documents. These families in particular should never allow anyone who does not specialize in this area of law to prepare their estate planning documents due to the disastrous consequences that could occur to the child's benefits if the documents are not done properly.