Have children or elderly parents? What about savings or a home?
If you answered yes to any of these, here’s another question for you: Do you have an estate plan in place?
While you may think that estate planning only applies to wealthy individuals with millions in assets who live on, well, estates … think again.
Plain and simple, estate planning helps protect your family in the event that something bad happens to you. And, yet, 55% of Americans don’t even have a last will, leaving them vulnerable to costly court fees and legal battles.
But even though it’s predicated on incapacitation or death, estate planning doesn’t have to be morbid. In fact, it can actually be life-affirming, because the process will allow you to take a closer look at the people you most care about in life—and ensure their future happiness.
We sat down with Kelly C. Gill, a partner at Friedler Law Group in Massachusetts, one of Super Lawyer’s best firms, to walk us through the most important questions you should think about now.
LearnVest: Wills, trusts, estate plans …. How do you determine what an individual needs?
Kelly C. Gill: The first thing I ask about is the family situation. Are you married? Do you have children? If so, how old are they? Family setup directs a whole portion of the estate-planning process.
The second part is to look at the level of assets to minimize the estate taxes that you’ll pay both federally and in your state. You may not have enough assets to be subject to estate taxes, but without looking at these pieces, we can’t do sound planning. Most states assess their own estate taxes, but some don’t, like Florida. That’s why it’s a great place to retire!
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