Estate Planning Need to Knows

two people reviewing documents with graphs

End of life planning isn’t something most of us do or actively think about. The peace of mind that comes with knowing what your loved ones will face once you’ve departed makes estate planning in Knoxville more than just a nice thing to do -- it makes it essential for any adult with an estate of any size. Here's what you need to know.

Probate

With very few exceptions, courts will come into play during the execution of an estate, and that means you need an experienced estate planning lawyer. Probate is the process of settling an estate, and it takes time and money (on average, it costs about 10 percent of the overall value of the estate). Unless your estate is set up to avoid probate by an estate planning attorney, your loved ones will go through that process.

The Will

Having a will does a lot more than make splitting up your estate easier. It clearly defines what is acceptable to you and what is not, how assets are to be used or distributed, and any other final wishes you may have, including how you’re handled once you’ve passed. Best of all, it can help prevent family squabbles in most cases. Family disagreements over the deceased person’s desires can eat up assets in legal costs and cause unnecessary pain. Anything you can do to make a will adhere to estate planning law and make your desires explicit will help your loved ones once you're gone.

Beneficiaries

Many people don't like to name a person as a beneficiary in the event of their death. This is because it's never fun to contemplate one’s own passing. However, it’s also difficult to split assets by naming names without worrying someone will be resentful. Not naming beneficiaries increases the likelihood your estate will end up in court. Naming beneficiaries specifically helps avoid probate and the attached costs of settling your estate.

While most beneficiaries are named on insurance policies or retirement plans, many everyday items can be specifically allocated. For example, checking and savings accounts and financial investments can have named beneficiaries. Naming a spouse a beneficiary and having them subsequently name beneficiaries is also a way of ensuring your desires regarding your estate are followed.

woman writing a diagram about estate planning

Trusts

Trusts are often perceived to be the exclusive domain of the rich. Small estates are often considered by the estate owner to not be worth putting in a trust because of the expenses involved in setting one up. Nothing could be further from the truth. A trust helps protect your assets, and if you work within legal parameters, it helps you avoid taxes on your estate. It also allows your spouse to continue enjoying your estate after you are gone without having to go through a lot of legal wrangling.

Setting up your estate so that your desires are met, legal issues are avoided, and your loved ones are cared for takes time, planning, and some money. Not doing so, however, can ensure each of those becomes a headache. To learn more about estate planning in Knoxville, visit the Winston Law Center.


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