In today’s ever-changing society, it’s important plan for the succession of your estate and the financial security of your children. While writing a will is a great way to finalize your last directives and wishes, it often is not enough to properly cover the your entire estate. Writing wills and estate plans can be an involved process that requires a lot of planning and an intense attention to detail. By properly executing your estate, you are succeeding in caring for your family, delivering inheritances, taking care of any debts, and avoiding the probate process when possible. JDKatz is here to serve as your estate lawyers in Maryland, delivering comprehensive support through each facet of estate law to try and help deliver an ideal outcome for your needs. Our team is staffed by some of the most experienced estate planning attorneys in the country, partnering with other professionals to provide tax, criminal, and legal litigation and support services to try and provide an optimal outcome for your unique needs.

Estate planning can be an intensive process for many people, requiring a number of tasks to be accomplished in an accurate and timely order to avoid any costly setbacks. Many of the individuals our Bethesda estate attorneys speak with are not sure as to the full scope of what estate planning is, which is why today’s blog post will continue to discuss the basics of establishing a well-rounded plan.

Designating Beneficiaries

Naming beneficiaries for your bank accounts, insurance plans, and retirement plans can go a long ways in helping your family avoid the probate process. When entered correctly, other properties such as stocks and bonds will be eligible for a seamless transfer process. Upon filing your beneficiary forms, your finances from the mentioned institutions will be “payable on death,” meaning that the process of dispensing assets to your named beneficiary is automatic in nature.

Protecting Your Children’s Inheritances

Inheritances can be complicated for immediate family members, and when your estate includes any minor children as beneficiaries, it can be difficult to navigate the best outcome for your kids. Most estate plans involve contingencies for this scenario, where a trusted adult is named as a property guardian to oversee the responsibility of any property or financial assets that are passed into your minor children. This custodian will be held to laws and governances surrounding the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA), which is held in one form or another in almost every state. Once the child reaches the minimum age (21 being the norm), they receive full control of the assets. You can choose to either designate a new adult to be the property guardian, or you can elect to give your child’s personal guardian the property powers. It’s important to protect what you have set aside for your young children, and our estate attorneys are here to ensure that the best steps are taken for a secure future.

Deciding Life Insurance Plans

While having a life insurance policy is not required, estate planning often involves the use of life insurance to help cover any costs leading up to and following your passing. Generally, people include life insurance to pay for:

  • Existing debts
  • Estate or income taxes
  • Funeral expenses

It is also beneficial to obtain life insurance if you have people depending on your income to survive, including children and your spouse. While there are many benefits to purchasing a life insurance policy for your estate plan, it may not be the best approach for everyone. Some individuals, such as high-earning adults with no children, may be better off not investing in a policy. As always our estate planning attorneys are here to help.

Covering Funeral Costs

Modern funeral homes claim that the average funeral today can cost between $7,000 and $10,000. In 2012, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NFDA) released results that placed the average cost nationwide to be $7,045. A Maryland survey found that today’s cost is closer to $11,000, with prices sure to increase over time. Planning and financing a funeral is not a fun task, but doing so can avoid a lot stress and complications for your family upon your death. Proper estate planning can help you plan for this expense, whether it be from an automatically transferred bank account or from a life insurance payout.

Planning for the end of your life may not sound like an ideal project, but doing so can have far-reaching benefits for your family and your estate. In our next blog post, we’ll conclude our three-part series by discussing the importance of having a succession plan. If you’re in need of help with estate planning in the Bethesda, JDKatz is here to help. Our experienced team of estate lawyers help our Maryland and Washington, D.C. clients to find the best outcome for their unique situations. From tax advice to criminal litigation, our legal team is here to fight for you. Contact us today to learn more about our estate planning services.