Why Estate Planning is Important:
It is a common misconception that estate planning is only necessary for the incredibly rich or to avoid high death taxes. With the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which eliminated the federal estate taxes, many people no longer see a need for estate planning. In fact, only 40% of Americans have an estate plan. However, estate planning remains as relevant today as it did prior to 2017 because estate planning is not just for the wealthy and it is not just a mechanism to avoid taxes.
After death, your estate enters into probate. Probate is a process whereby a court grants access to your assets. This process is costly and often takes months or years to complete. A careful estate plan, such as that of Anthony Bourdain, can avoid this costly and lengthy probate process. In particular, a revocable trust can be created to allow families “more immediate access to assets and save on legal and court fees.” Tracy Craig, Is Estate Planning Now Dead?
Not only does estate planning reduce the cost and time spent in probate, but estate planning also helps ensure that your assets go to the intended recipients. For example, in his estate plan, Anthony Bourdain left his frequent flyer rewards to his estranged wife. According to Megan Gorman’s article How Anthony Bourdain’s Estate Plan Reflected the Two Most Important Parts of His Life, “68% of American adults have a credit card that earns travel rewards.” Not all of these loyalty programs are the same and many require a designated beneficiary through an estate plan. In fact, some programs do not allow the asset to pass onto a beneficiary at all. Through his carefully devised estate plan, Anthony Bourdain was able to ensure that his wife benefited from his estate in the way he intended.
Blended families also pose a complication in ensuring the intended recipient gets their share. For instance, simple estate plans in which one spouse leaves everything to the other spouse can result in disaster. It is somewhat typical, after the death of the first spouse, to see the second spouse change the will and remove the step-children, preventing them access to their parent’s assets. Proper estate planning can guarantee that all the intended beneficiaries will receive their share of the estate.
Further, siblings often struggle to settle estates among themselves. For example, when a house is left to all the children in equal shares, all the children need to agree to sell the house and all the children need to agree on the price of sale. This often results in squabbling and costly legal battles. An estate plan can specify who is in charge of these decisions and how they are to be handled, preventing such complications and conflict.
In addition to designating who benefits from the estate and who makes decisions for the estate, an estate plan can also outline when the intended beneficiary will inherit their share. Divorce, special needs, creditors, and more can result in the loss of an asset the moment it passes onto your intended recipient. However, an estate plan can ensure that the intended recipient receives your assets at the particular time that best preserves them. Not only will this protect your assets, but it allows the recipient to properly benefit from them as well.
Through careful planning, Anthony Bourdain was able to ensure that all of his $1.2 million estate went only to his 11-year-old daughter without excessive probate costs and lengthy delays. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced estate planners who will work to guarantee that your intended beneficiaries can receive their designated share of your estate without the frustration of probate and conflict that often accompanies an unplanned estate. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients. Contact Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice family law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties Clare, Gladwin, Ogemawand Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigancommunities.