Many people find it difficult to think about what will happen to their estates after they die. Some are consumed by planning for the immediate future, whether it’s purchasing a new car, scheduling a vacation or buying a home. Others just don’t want to face the fact that their lives will eventually come to an end.
The facts bear that reluctance out. According to a Caring.com survey conducted this year, only two out of three seniors (age 65 and above) in the United States have wills, trusts or other estate planning instruments. Younger people are even less likely to have made plans for the future: only 39 percent of adults ages 55–64 and 34 percent of adults ages 35-44 have wills or trusts. The number is even lower for millennials, with only one in five between the ages of 18 and 34 having estate plans. There are, however, multiple benefits to crafting an estate plan ahead of time, no matter your age. And it’s essential if you own property or have children to protect them through careful planning.
One of the key elements of an estate plan is a will, which specifies who is to inherit your property and assets after you pass. It also prevents unintended beneficiaries from gaining possession of your property. If you do not have a will in place when you die, the courts will distribute your assets and determine beneficiaries according to the state’s laws of intestacy, which might not align with your own wishes. The process could take years, accumulate fees and leave certain family members upset and angry.
Another benefit of estate planning is that it can protect families with younger children. While parents may not think about dying young, they can ensure their children will be cared for by someone they trust should both parents die before their kids. Parents can designate a guardian for their minor children in their will, although that person will need to be appointed by the court.
When estate plans contain living trusts, beneficiaries are spared from the probate process, which means they are likely to receive estate assets more quickly and efficiently. Estate planning can also protect heirs from IRS tax burdens. While Florida has no state, estate or inheritance tax, the federal government will tax estates valued at more than $11.18 million, as of 2018.
Careful estate planning gives you control over what you’ve worked a lifetime to accumulate. It’s one of the best ways to pass your estate to those of your choice and avoid family disputes that might otherwise occur after your death.
Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. provides dependable estate planning and real estate counsel in Florida, with the knowledge and background needed to help clients successfully plan for the future. You can call our Tampa office at 813-254-2637 or contact us online for a free consultation.