Estate planning can be a long, arduous process. If it seems that the bigger your estate becomes the more rules you have to follow and the harder it gets to follow them, that’s because it’s the truth. Estate laws involve complicated regulation and are not designed to be easy to follow or understand. Here’s another simple truth, and one you should think about: you should perform your due diligence in managing those assets now, and find proper legal counsel to begin the estate planning process as soon as you can. The earlier you do, the easier it will be to manage everything you build in the future. It also helps ease the burden on your loved ones in the case of an early and unexpected death.
A lot of things can change over the years. We experience painful losses, joyful new additions to our families, new marriages, the dissolution of old ones, new business ventures, and so on. All of these changes can drastically affect the way you divide your assets after death, and that’s why you should get going as soon as possible.
There are more complicated concerns as well.
When you own enough wealth that you’re required to pay an estate tax after death, some of the tax-related deadlines begin as soon as the estate is considered open. Another set of deadlines begin upon death–and if your estate is not set up to manage those deadlines ahead of time, the recipients of the wealth that is to be divided will have to bear the brunt of any penalties incurred by the estate at that time.
An attorney can help you plan not only for unexpected events in your own life, but explain to you the nuances of estate planning law. Sometimes combining your assets can cost you down the road, while spreading them out can offer more flexibility.
On top of that, counsel will also help keep you current on any recent changes that might affect your estate. For example, while the federal government is currently toying around with the idea of dismissing estate taxation altogether, California may institute its own. New regulations and tax reform can easily catch individuals off-guard, so it’s important to have someone who can represent your rights as an owner of potentially millions of dollars worth of assets.
It’s also important to delegate responsibility for your assets in the event you are incapacitated. Sometimes Alzheimer’s disease can strike early, and it’s safer when everyone knows who will be in charge if and when this happens.
Don’t forget: if you don’t leave behind a will, then the division of your assets is left up to the court system.
No matter what, good planning equals peace of mind. Everyone you leave behind should be allowed that peace of mind, and so should you. Do yourself–and them–an enormous favor, and find an estate planning law firm that can properly oversee your interests as you age. Overall, this is less time-consuming, less expensive to your family, and less of a headache.