Here’s Why You May Be Putting Off Estate Planning

Clients frequently tell us that they know they have to “get around” to making an estate plan. These are people who understand the importance of a plan and still don’t make one. Because we have been doing this for decades, no one empathizes more with your situation than we do. Death and dying are uncomfortable topics, and having to do the legwork to place your assets in a trust or to identify each one in a will is daunting too. Whether you are delaying your planning or haven’t committed to creating one, ask yourself what will happen to your assets and family when you pass away.


The First Question to Ask Yourself

Are your assets going through probate or not? From personal experience, we can attest to how many people falsely assume that everything passes through probate. To be clear, when you pass away, your assets become your estate. Your estate can go through probate to pass title from the estate to the designated beneficiaries. However, you are not required to go through this process. Those who want their estate to bypass probate must take specific and deliberate actions through an experienced estate planning attorney. By avoiding estate planning, you are giving up your say. Once you have passed away without one, your beneficiaries will be forced into probate. 


The specific and deliberate actions we’re referring to titling your assets. This is the difference between going through probate or not. People make the mistake of assuming their estate planning is done after they have written and signed a legal will. Never forget that a will is missing title. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said about trusts, typically used to bypass probate. 


The engine that drives everything is how your assets are titled. Now, circle back to our original question: What will happen to my assets when I pass away? Before anyone can truly answer that question, they need to know how your assets are titled. This alone says more than the estate planning tool you have selected to utilize.  


Then What’s the Difference Between a Title & a Trust?

That is a great question, and the difference between the two is significant. A trust is a legal document containing your wishes about what you want to happen when you pass away. An asset’s title speaks to how the asset is owned. However, you can title assets in the name of your trust. When your estate planning attorney sets up a trust, the trust can be the title owner of your home, your bank account, and it can be the beneficiary on your life insurance policy. 


This is why we refer to the titling of assets as the engine that drives everything. If you explain that your assets are owned by a revocable trust and have been titled appropriately, we have a finer understanding of what will happen to your assets when you are no longer here. A revocable trust is a highly effective estate planning tool, but you must fund it. 


Speak to an Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney 

Don’t allow a court to decide things on your behalf. You have tremendous power over where your assets will go, who they will go through, and how that transfer occurs. Whether you have an existing estate plan needing modifications or are new to the process, contact J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C., to schedule your consultation.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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