Reese estate planning lawyers at Biddinger & Bitzer can provide you with assistance in making the right plans to achieve your desired legacy. There are many considerations that affect the legacy planning process and the legal tools that you need to use to make your plans. One of the most important considerations is your specific family situation. Your family situation can affect your legacy plan in important ways. Here are a few key examples of how your situation will affect the plans you need to make.
Your Marital Status Could Impact Estate Tax Issues
If you are married, you can leave your assets to your spouse and you will not need to worry about estate tax. You can pass an unlimited amount of wealth onto your husband or wife without your estate being subject to any taxes. If you do pass assets onto your spouse, you can also pass on your unused estate tax exemption, which means your spouse will then be allowed to leave double the assets to other heirs or beneficiaries tax-free.
If you’re not married and/or if you don’t want to leave assets to your husband or wife, you’ll need to consider other tools for avoiding estate tax. And, if you don’t want to leave assets to your spouse, you’ll also need to make a plan to deal with the spousal elective share, which would allow your spouse to just claim a part of your estate no matter what your will says.
The Age of Your Heirs or Beneficiaries Could Affect the Legal Tools You Need to Use
If you are leaving money to someone who is underaged, the child cannot inherit directly and cannot manage the money directly. You can transfer assets under the provisions of the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, which would allow you to specify who should manage the money for the child until the child becomes an adult. You could also use a trust to take much more control over who manages the assets left to the child and how and when the inheritance is used.
Having a Disabled Family Member Could Necessitate Different Legacy Planning Steps
If you want to leave money to a loved one with special needs, you need to be mindful of the fact that providing a large inheritance could potentially cause a loss of access to means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. You do not want to be responsible for your loved one losing important government benefits as a result of your attempts to provide an inheritance that would enhance his quality of life. You should work with Reese estate planning lawyers to make a plan to use a special needs trust or other legal tools to transfer assets in an appropriate way that protects benefits.
Your Role as a Family Breadwinner Could Affect The Method You Use to Transfer Assets
When you have loved ones who depend upon your income, you may intend for an inheritance you are leaving to them to provide for them and help them to maintain their quality of life even after you are gone and no longer able to provide financial support. Unfortunately, the probate process is a very lengthy process and during the months it can take for the probate process to take place, your loved ones could experience financial hardship while they wait for an inheritance.
Taking steps to ensure that assets transfer outside of probate process — such as creating a trust so the wealth transfers through the much faster trust administration process — can ensure that your loved ones have the assets they need to continue to maintain their standard of living once you have passed on.
Getting Help from Reese Estate Planning Lawyers
Reese estate planning lawyers at Biddinger & Bitzer can provide the personalized help you need to make a legacy plan that suits your family situation. If you live in or around the Michigan shoreline area and you want to find out more about how our firm can help with the legacy planning process, give us a call at (989) 872-5601 or contact us online today.