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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Apr 24, 2015

Whether or not you realize it, you have an estate. It’s made up of everything you own; your car, your home, checking and savings accounts, and even personal possessions. No matter how large or small, everyone has an estate.

It’s important to have a plan for what happens to your estate after you die. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive your estate, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. Estate planning covers these items and much more.

An estate plan begins with a will or living trust.
A will provides your instructions, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name must go through your state’s probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs. The process varies greatly from state to state, but it can become expensive with legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. It can also take anywhere from nine months to two years or longer. Basically, the court, not your family, controls what happens with your estate. By having a developed estate plan, you can:

  • Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.

  • Include instructions for your care if you become disabled.

  • Name a guardian for minor children.

  • Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.

  • Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.

  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

A revocable living trust is preferred by many families and professionals. It can avoid probate at death (including multiple probates if you own property in other states), prevent court control of assets and bring all of your assets together into one plan. A living trust also provides maximum privacy, is valid in every state, and can be changed by you at any time. It can also reflect your love and values to your family and future generations. Speak to an experienced estate attorney about the best way to protect and pass on your estate.