Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 27, 2012 – In the New Year, it is essential to get finances and life wishes in order. Without an estate plan, courts will make the final decision on a person’s wishes and assets.
“Many people think that estate plans are only for the elderly or wealthy,” said Dallas estate planning lawyer John Hale, of The Hale Law Firm. “It is never too early to plan and people of all incomes should take the time to create a will and estate plan. Otherwise your children and heirs could be left battling with the court system, and your assets could be heavily taxed.”
The Hale Law Firm takes a comprehensive approach to estate planning that many individuals should utilize. A valid will is vital to making known a person’s intended disposition of their estate. The will outlines who inherits what, when and how they will receive the property, and who oversees its handling. Importantly, the Will specifies who will serve as guardian for minor children.
It is important to remember that while a will is the centerpiece of an estate plan, it does not go into effect until after death. In the meanwhile, a plan should be in place to provide for the management of finances and health care decision making in the event of serious illness or incapacity. No estate plan is complete without a durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney and living will.
Periods of prolonged illness or disability exert a tremendous financial strain on the family. Good estate planning involves recognizing this risk and exploring ways to insure against it with disability insurance or long-term care insurance. Likewise, a plan should be in place to provide income replacement in the event of death through life insurance. And as risks are insured against, beneficiary designations for all accounts, including bank and retirement, need to be reviewed to make sure they are right.
If the estate is particularly large, consideration should be given to minimizing exposure to estate taxes. Smaller estates also require tax planning to avoid unwanted capital gains on investments and lost income tax deferral on retirement accounts.
Special planning is necessary for families with disabled loved ones to avoid creating periods of ineligibility for government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. Caution is also required for blended families to makes sure no one is “unintentionally” disinherited and to reduce the risk of a will contest.
“Make it a priority to sit down with a professional this year to make sure your estate plan is truly complete – it will help protect your family against the ‘what ifs’ in life and provide peace-of-mind,” said Hale.
“Unnecessary delay, excessive fees, and assets lost to waste and poor planning is not what any person wants, but you have to plan ahead to avoid this,” said Hale.
John Hale is a Dallas estate planning lawyer and Dallas elder law attorney with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more about the Dallas elder law firm and Dallas estate planning, call 972.351.0000 or visit http://www.thehalelawfirm.com/.
The Hale Law Firm
100 Executive Court, Suite 3
Waxahachie, TX 75165