Do not put off estate planning
Estate planning is a subject most people put off tackling as long as possible. A recent survey by the AARP found that 71 percent of Americans over 34, and 40 percent of Americans of the Baby Boomer generation, have not drawn up their wills. And when they do, some people try to take a shortcut by downloading a will form off the Internet and filling it out.
But this is a mistake. If a will is not properly written, some of its provisions may conflict with others, making it very difficult to honor. And a will is not considered to be officially recorded until the death of the person who made it out. What this means is that if you fail to make out a will properly, you will not be around to help your heirs clear up any confusion that may arise over the wording. You should get help from an estate planning attorney who knows how to help you write a will in clear and legally binding language. Even if you have already made out your will, if it is ten or twenty years old you will probably wish to update it to reflect changes in your circumstances.
Another tool in estate planning is trusts. Putting an asset in an irrevocable trust makes it no longer part of your estate. If it produces income you may still receive it, but the asset itself is out of your control. If you do this five years or more before applying for Medicaid, you avoid an eligibility penalty. An estate planning attorney can help you draw up an irrevocable trust. If you put an accent in a revocable trust, on the other hand, it is still legally yours, and you can change or revoke your trust if necessary.
If you are incapacitated, the trustee you named continues to manage your assets while they remain in your name. In the event of your death, the assets in this trust are not necessarily distributed right away — they can be left in the management of your agent for a set amount of time. More to the point, these assets do not go through probate. An estate planning attorney can help you draw up a revocable trust.
Estate planning help in Gastonia, NC
Robert C. Whitt, Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Charlotte, Gastonia, Mount Holly and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. His legal practice is focused on estate planning and other aspects of elder law. He has been rated AV by the 147-year-old Martindale-Hubble law rating service — the highest honor an attorney can receive. If you need help with estate planning, call today.