Thinking about how to distribute your assets upon your death may not seem to be a top priority when you’re in the prime of life and in good health. But now is the best time to begin planning to ensure that your family is taken care of according to your wishes and that those assets that you’ve worked so hard for are used in the manner you choose. Whether your estate is large or small, planning will ensure that it is distributed with the least amount of cost, delay, and taxes.
Estate planning begins with taking an inventory of your assets – real estate, insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, investments, and business interests. Then you’ll decide who will receive which assets upon your death and who will be in charge of handling and distributing the assets among your heirs.
Sometimes an important estate-planning task is reducing the size of your estate to ensure that your heirs will be able to assume ownership of your assets tax-free. If your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption, your Sun City estate planning lawyer can suggest strategies to reduce your estate through gifts and trusts to avoid those taxes.
Stating who will receive which of your assets is one primary function of your will. Another very important function, if you have minor children, is naming guardians for them in the event of your death. For younger families, this is often the most important reason for writing a will.
A living will or medical proxy states your wishes in the event you are incapacitated by an illness and unable to make medical decisions for yourself. You can prepare an advance directive on such issues as whether you wish doctors to take heroic measures to extend your life if you are terminally ill or whether you wish to donate your organs, and you can determine who will handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so with a power of attorney.
Trusts are a way for you to reduce the amount of your estate, avoid gift taxes, and allow your assets to be distributed without involving a probate court. A trust may also protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors.
Many people want to use part of their assets to benefit worthy causes and charities. One way to do this is to donate to a charitable gift fund or community foundation. Your investment in the foundation or fund grows tax-free, and you can choose which charities will benefit – both before and after your death.
Effective estate planning involves a thorough understanding of Arizona’s estate and trust laws. Planning for end-of-life issues and orderly and timely distribution of your assets can become extremely complex. Attempting to tackle this job yourself could leave your family with many uncertainties at a time when they are grieving, and could cause dissension among your heirs if you haven’t made your wishes clear. Using an experienced estate planning lawyer to advise you and draft all the required documents can ensure that your wishes are met.
The estate planning attorneys at the Sun City, AZ law offices of Gorman & Jones, PLC, can help you plan for the future, giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family will be cared for in keeping with your wishes, and that you have expressed your desires through clear directives so as not to burden your loved ones with making difficult end-of life decisions on your behalf. Contact Gorman & Jones, PLC today to start planning your legacy.
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