Creating a last will and testament is usually the first and most obvious step to take when you are making a legacy plan , and estate planning attorneys at Zimmer Law Firm can help you to draft a legally valid will. Unfortunately, many people simply make a will and do not go any further with the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. This can be a mistake, depending upon the situation.
There are many circumstances in which making a will is simply not sufficient to leave your desired legacy and to provide the protections that you hope to offer your loved ones. Zimmer Law Firm can help you to determine if your estate plan should go beyond simply creating a last will and testament. Our estate planning attorneys can offer personalized help determining what other estate planning tools you may wish to use and can advise you on why a will may simply not be enough to accomplish your goals.
It’s best to get personalized advice, as everyone’s family and financial situation are different. However, here are a few key examples of common situations where a will is not going to be enough to constitute a comprehensive estate plan.
When Your Family Needs to Inherit Quickly
As Investopedia explains, the probate process can take around a year to complete. If your family was relying on your income and you are no longer there to provide it, you may be counting on the money you’ve left to your loved ones to provide for them. This can be a problem if your assets are tied up in a lengthy probate process and aren’t accessible to the family members who need the money. Making a living trust could allow your assets to transfer more quickly through the trust administration process.
When You Are Leaving Money to a Minor
If you are leaving money to someone underage, you could use the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act to specify a guardian for the funds in your will. However, if you want more control over who will manage assets left to a child and how the funds will be spent, you should consider creating a trust. A minor cannot directly inherit and manage his or her own money when he’s under age 18, so simply leaving money to a minor in a will without taking steps to determine who will manage it can create problems. The court could end up deciding who is in charge of managing an inheritance, which may not be what you’d want.
When You Are Providing Funds to An Irresponsible Heir
If you are leaving money to heirs or beneficiaries who are irresponsible with managing assets, the inheritance you provide could be lost quickly to creditors or bankruptcy. If you don’t want this to happen and you want more control over ensuring the assets you provide are able to enhance your loved one’s quality of life for the long-term, you should consider creating a spendthrift trust.
If Your Heirs Have Special Needs
If your heirs or beneficiaries are disabled and are reliant on means-tested benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will likely need to work with an experienced attorney to create a special needs trust. If you simply provide an inheritance directly in a will, this could cause a loss of access to means-tested benefits and could lead to problems if your disabled relative doesn’t have the knowledge or capacity to manage the assets.
If You Will Owe Estate Tax
If you have a large estate and will owe estate tax, transferring assets through a will could mean your estate has to pay a large tax bill and the inheritance you provide to loved ones is significantly reduced. If you don’t want this to happen, you should work with an experienced attorney to find tools you can use to facilitate the transfer of wealth in ways that reduce or avoid estate tax.
Getting Help from Estate Planning Attorneys
These are just a few of many situations when a will is not enough to constitute a comprehensive estate plan. There are many other circumstances in which you need more than a last will and testament if you want to provide for the people you love and keep your wealth safe to hand down to the next generation.
To find out more about why you may need to use other estate planning tools and to learn what some of those important tools are, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at 513-721-1513 or contact us online to learn more.
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