Choosing the right estate planning tools is essential so you can control your legacy and ensure your family is always going to be cared for – even if something happens to you and you get sick or pass away.
While many people think that a will is the only tool they need, a will leaves your loved ones forced to go through the time-consuming and stressful probate process. It could also result in a part of your wealth being lost due to estate tax. Other legal tools can be more effective at protecting wealth and transferring assets, but you need to learn which tools are the right ones for your situation. Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates can help.
Our experienced estate planning attorneys are familiar with all of the different estate planning tools that give you the control you need to determine what happens at the end of your life and after you’ve passed on. We create a customized plan to help you prepare for the future, and this plan could incorporate many different tools including these five common ones that are used by many individuals throughout Connecticut.
1. A Last Will and Testament
Wills are a common estate planning tool for a reason: they are simple and versatile. You can specify who you want to inherit property and can even use a will to create testamentary trusts. While a will provides much less control than other common estate planning tools, it does still give you the opportunity to determine what will happen to your assets after you pass away. Many people who use more advanced estate planning tools will still use a will to dictate what happens to any remaining assets that do not transfer through other means.
Trusts are used to protect assets during your life and after death, and can be used to allow you to provide an inheritance that you keep much more control over. There are myriad different types of trusts, including spendthrift trusts that allow you to provide for irresponsible spenders as well as special needs trusts for parents with children who are disabled. You should talk with an attorney if you’re thinking about using a trust because your lawyer can help you select the best trust type and can ensure you follow the requirements to create a trust.
3. Joint Ownership
You can own properly jointly with someone else if you want that property to transfer automatically to the other owner upon your death. Not all joint ownership arrangements will result in property being transferred automatically to new owners. You will want to ensure that the way you own property — or the way in which you take title to property — is joint ownership with rights of survivorship. It is the rights of survivorship that facilitate the fast transfer of the jointly owned property outside of the probate process.
4. Pay-on-Death Accounts
A pay-on-death account is an account that allows you to specify that a designated person should inherit the account upon your death. You can use a pay on death account to make sure that your loved ones are able to immediately access account assets after you pass away. This can be very important if you have someone in your life who counts on your income for financial security and who will need to use an inheritance that you provide to remain financially stable. You don’t want your loved one to get into financial trouble because the probate process takes so long and your loved one has no access to cash.
5. Advanced Directives for Healthcare
Advanced directives for healthcare are intended not to protect your loved ones after your death, but instead to protect your loved ones during your lifetime. When you create advanced directives for healthcare, you specify who should make healthcare choices for you and you express your preferences in advance for when you wish to decline care or when extraordinary measures should be used to prolong your life. Making these choices in advance can spare your family from making painful choices if you suffer a medical emergency.
Contact a Connecticut Estate Planning Lawyer For Help With Estate Planning Tools
Nirenstein, Horowitz & Associates will work closely with you to identify the best estate planning tools for your specific situation. Every person’s planning goals are different, so give us a call at 860-548-1000 or contact us online to create a personalized plan. You can also learn more about the estate planning process by joining us for a free seminar.
Don’t wait to make your plans until it is too late and something happens unexpectedly when your family and legacy are unprotected. Reach out to our firm today for help.