Many Tennessee residents and their peers in other states spanning the country occasionally think about estate planning.
And then they periodically think again about that topic. And again, and again, and … .
Readers likely well grasp the point. Estate planning is simply legal terrain that legions of Americans – even would-be planners – dwell upon from time to time but ultimately avoid taking to a next-step level.
That is, they procrastinate when it comes to taking action. Any number of studies and reports underscore that many individuals and families think estate planning is unduly complex and don’t know how to get started with the process. And just as many others think that crafting a formal plan is a task that makes sense only for the ultra-rich.
Actually, neither of those things is true. Timely and on-point input from a proven and empathetic estate planning attorney can render the planning process both seamless and sensible. And the bottom line concerning estate planning is that it strongly makes sense for virtually everyone.
Many people have assets they want to safeguard and ultimately pass on to future generations. Parents logically want to ensure protections for their children via the appointment of a trusted guardian. A family member might have special needs. Individuals understandably want to know that a trusted person will step forward and exercise power for them in financial and health care matters if they become incapacitated. Charitable needs, family gifting and legacy concerns can all be addressed through tailored planning.
And there is this, too: A soundly executed estate plan can help avoid probate.
Spotlighting the probate process in estate planning
Probate is not a legal event that is hard to explain. Essentially, it is a court-administered process through which the estate of a person who has passed is finally settled. If there is a will, it will be examined. Property will be identified, creditors notified, outstanding debts and taxes paid, inheritances confirmed and so forth.
Probate is often deemed an undesirable and arduous process for several reasons, including these:
- Probate takes time and focuses upon many matters
- Probate can be pricey, entailing various fees and costs
- Probate is a matter of public record, which can spawn a lack of privacy highly valued for affected parties
Probate downsides can be addressed through planning
Many individuals and families concerned with probate challenges are both surprised and happy to hear in consulting with proven legal counsel that the process can be eliminated through tailored planning.
The creation of one of more trusts can be ideal for avoiding probate. Unlike wills, trusts sidestep probate upon a creator’s passing. That saves time and money and, importantly, promotes privacy.
A carefully crafted estate plan can promote peace of mind, certainty and maximally effective strategies. Consultation with an experienced estate planning legal office can timely and effectively address all those goals.