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Kent Estate Administration and Probate Law Blog

Estate planning for millennials

Kent area residents should understand that estate planning is not just for the older generation. Although many people assume that those who have a great amount of assets or are approaching the end of their lives should have an estate plan, estate planning is actually for everyone, millennials included.

No one finds the planning for what would happen if they suffer an untimely demise. It's not a pleasant topic for most discussions and can be depressing. But, even millennials can benefit from an estate plan. For millennials, having a will can dictate where assets should go upon a person's death. It can also be the place where guardians are named for children and name an executor for the estate. Another important document for millennials is a living will. This document can list healthcare wishes in case a person has a medical crisis where they are not able to communicate their desires. A healthcare proxy should also be designated to make healthcare decisions in the event of a medical emergency. And, naming a durable power of attorney to handle financial decisions if a person is no longer able to make these decisions on their own.

Updating an estate plan? Don't forget about beneficiaries

Kent area residents who have an estate plan may think that they are set. Creating an estate plan is a good step to ensure that a person's assets and wishes will be followed after their death. However, an estate plan should also be reviewed periodically to make sure everything is still accurate.

When reviewing an estate plan, checking out who the designated beneficiaries are is one of the most important steps. If beneficiaries are not reviewed periodically, several problems can ensue. Many times, the beneficiary named has passed away. For instance, people in their first jobs may name their parents as beneficiaries of a life insurance policy and, if the beneficiary isn't changed, the estate would need to go through probate. Also, many people have a family that has had multiple marriages, stepchildren, etc. A person can name one child as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, while a stepchild is named in the will. These inconsistencies can lead to a probate dispute. In addition, changes to beneficiaries should occur if a beneficiary dies, receives public assistance, a divorce occurs, or a beneficiary has a serious medical diagnosis.

What are the benefits of a QTIP trust?

There are many families in the Kent area who have had a divorce in the family. Especially for older residents, divorce is common. Estate planning for families who have multiple spouses and children from multiple marriages can be complicated. A QTIP trust may be a good option in these situations.

The divorce rate for older Americans has steadily gone up since 1990. Older Americans, for whatever reason, have decided to divorce and remarry in record numbers. Because of this, many have ex-spouses and children from multiple marriages that make estate planning complicated. A Qualified Terminable Interest Property trust may be an estate document that should be considered.

Bequests and estate planning

Many Kent area residents support their favorite charities. Charitable giving is an important concern for many people, and the ability to incorporate this into an estate plan is something that many people are interested in. Bequests in a will are a popular form of supporting a charity after death.

There are different types of bequests that a person can specify in their will. One is a pecuniary bequest. This is where a certain dollar amount is left to a charity. A specific bequest is when certain items are given to charity, like a painting or antique car. A residuary bequest is when a charity receives all or part of the remainder of the donor's assets after everything else has been distributed and taxes have been paid. There is also a contingent bequest where a charity receives the donation if a certain thing happens, like a donor not being survived by a spouse.

Failing to have an estate plan can lead to family turmoil

Although many Kent area residents understand the importance of having an estate plan, nearly 60% of Americans have not taken the time to create one. Many people think they don't have enough assets to worry about creating a plan, but there are many reasons why having an estate plan is important.

If a person passes away without an estate plan, the legal system will decide who gets the assets and who will care for the children left behind. In addition to a will, beneficiaries need to be specified on bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. Healthcare directives should also be considered in the event a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to make decisions for themselves. A healthcare power of attorney can be specified as well as a power of attorney for financial decisions. All important documents should be recorded; recording these documents can be such a blessing for family members who need this information after a death.

Why do you need an estate plan?

Many Kent area families understand the importance of an estate plan. But, over 75% of people do not have a will and a large percentage of the rest of the population do not have an estate plan in place. Not having an estate plan puts a person's assets in jeopardy when they pass away. There are many reasons why having an estate plan is important, regardless of age.

Many times, people do not think about estate planning until they are older, retired, and accumulated a large amount of wealth. But, anyone can benefit from an estate plan, including young families and single people. There are aspects of an estate plan that can appeal to everyone. One is to ensure a person's wishes are carried out upon their death. These wishes can include who will receive their assets, who will take care of their children, or who will take care of any pets. Final wishes can also spell out how a person would like their children raised, including religion preferences and other values. An estate plan protects a family by avoiding legal hassles, minimizing taxes, and ensuring a family's privacy.

Aretha Franklin died without a will in place

Having a will means that upon a person's death, their estate will usually be handled according to their wishes. When a person dies without a will, their estate enters probate, where there are bound to be family members arguing over it. Many Kent area residents understand the importance of a will, but there is still a large percentage of Americans who haven't taken the time to create one.

Aretha Franklin died recently from pancreatic cancer and it has come to light that she did not have an existing will or trust. It appears that many family members have requested access to her estate, including her four sons and a niece. Her four sons have filed a document listing themselves as interested parties, while her niece has requested the court to appoint her as the estate's personal representative.

Baby boomers and estate planning

Many Kent area residents understand the importance of estate planning. Estate planning is a way to control what happens after a person dies and it ensures assets are passed on in the way in which a person wants. Estate planning can also help with important power of attorney designations and health care instructions. With all the advantages an estate plan offers, baby boomers should ensure theirs is in place.

More than half of all baby boomers do not have an estate plan. Over 70% of Americans do not have an estate plan. If a person dies, their assets can be in limbo without an estate plan. So, regardless of age, everyone needs an estate plan. Many baby boomers understand the value of charities and creating an estate plan can offer an opportunity for charitable giving.

Reasons why a will is important

Estate planning is not usually the most exciting thing for a Kent area family to work on. No one wants to think about what would happen to their assets, their children, etc. after they pass away. But, when a family does not take the time to create an estate plan, problems can arise upon their death. Having a will is one of the most important things a person can do for their family.

There are many reasons why a will is important. One main reason is a person gets to decide how their estate will be distributed upon their death. If there isn't a will when a person dies, their assets will most likely not be distributed the way they would have liked them to be.

College kids should consider estate planning

Time is quickly approaching for young adults to head off to college for the year. This is always an exciting time for families as they put together school supplies. But, along with packing the car, a few estate planning measures should also be considered.

Kids heading off to college are essentially young adults and there are many new responsibilities they will need to handle. Estate planning is not one of those topics that frequently comes up, but there are a few estate planning documents that are important for college kids. One is a durable power of attorney. This is a document that designates a person to make financial decisions for them if they are not able to make the decisions themselves. That person can also handle financial transactions as well. This can be helpful if the principal studies abroad and needs help signing leases, wiring money, speaking with credit card companies, etc.

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