Estate planning is a term which probably does not excite people the way it excites the attorneys in our office. For us, it’s a term which has a connotation of using our years of training to help you preserve assets, make decisions, and distribute property according to your wishes while minimizing the financial impact, likelihood of litigation, and familial strife.
Estate property consists of your home, real estate, personal property like cars and furniture, and other types of personal property like insurance, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, pensions, and other benefits.
Think of the estate plan as a blueprint for your property and your property as a structure consisting of multiple pieces. When you pass away, you don’t want all of your parts to fall in on themselves. You want your property to have the smoothest possible transition to your loved ones.
Some people say “I need to get a will done.” Yes! That is a very important estate planning tool, but it is certainly not the only one. There are so many other important estate planning tools and features out there that help you plan for where your property goes after you pass. Pensions, life insurance, joint ownership, gifts, payable on death accounts, trusts, etc. are all other estate planning features that can be utilized to make the post-death estate administration smooth.
People mostly think of older folks getting estate planning because they have accumulated wealth and well, let’s face it, the idea of death is probably crossing their minds a lot more than a younger person. My grandfather used to say he knew he was old when everybody in the obituary column was younger than him. However, the VAST majority of our clients are younger people who need estate plans. What triggers them to realize they need estate planning? Usually, it’s a life transition – pregnancy, birth, death of a loved one, marriage, new job, home purchase, etc. One glance at the news demonstrates that far too many young and middle age people die suddenly, often leaving behind minor children who need care and direction. Estate planning needs to be factored into your overall financial plan, along with your children’s college tuition and your retirement needs. If financial or familial circumstances change later in life, it’s usually inexpensive to change your plan. The number one thing young people want to discuss is how to make sure minor children are cared for and how to make sure they do not get a lot of money until they are old enough to handle it responsibly. Another frequent issue is that young people see their aging parents losing mental capacity, and they come to us to discuss how to plan for their own incapacity. Through health care powers of attorney, financial power of attorney, living wills, and other estate planning documents, we can help them.
For a free Durham estate plan consultation with one of our licensed attorneys, contact us at 919-244-2019 to set up a meeting. Or you can click here to fill out a contact form.