True or False? – Only wealthy people need an estate plan.
FALSE. Everyone will eventually have their assets distributed after they pass away. SOMEONE will get your stuff. Your estate plan should determine who that SOMEONE is.
If you die without a will, Louisiana state law will determine who your heirs are. But, if you plan ahead and create an estate plan, YOU determine who are your heirs and what they will receive. And remember, contrary to popular belief, in most cases, your spouse WILL NOT inherit ownership of your estate if you do not have a will.
So, EVERYONE who has an estate of any size should be concerned about how their estate is distributed after they are gone. And the best way to assure the right people get your stuff is with an estate plan.
Will my succession cost more or less if I have an estate plan in place?
It depends on what kind of estate plan you choose. If you create an estate plan with a will, the cost of filing your succession documents will not be much different than if you didn’t have a will. But, as explained above, it would be unwise to not have an estate plan of some kind.
A couple of the negatives for using a will, or not having any plan are; 1. The unpredictable costs of attorney fees for filing a succession and; 2. The delay in distribution of the estate assets while the heirs wait for the succession process to be completed. The succession process can take from many months to years to complete, dependent on the complexity.
Another option would be to create an estate plan using a LIVING TRUST. If the trust is properly implemented, there will be NO NEED for a succession at all. Living trusts are becoming more popular as an estate planning tool for this very reason. YOU control all aspects of your estate planning, including the costs to settle your estate.
It is important to note that the living trust as an estate planning method is NOT FOR EVERYONE. The living trust does provide serious benefits such as; 1. Immediate access to estate assets by the beneficiaries and; 2. Reasonable, controlled costs for the creation of the estate plan and the distribution of assets.
But, conversely, using a living trust for estate planning can create complications for the initiator of the trust by making banking, investment, and real estate transactions somewhat more cumbersome.
Of course, the best way to assure that you are choosing the right estate plan for your situation is to seek the assistance of an attorney who is experienced in estate planning and who can discuss with you the variety of options available with wills and/or trusts.