Questions Commonly Asked By Our Estate Planning Clients
Estate planning is an important step that everyone should take in order to protect their assets and requests for the future. At Hicks & Funfsinn, PLLC, we are here to guide you through the estate planning process and help ensure that you, your loved ones and what you have worked hard for are protected. With several office locations, including Lexington and Harrodsburg, we serve individuals and families throughout Kentucky.
Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked by our clients. For more information about these topics or to discuss your specific estate planning needs, get in touch with our firm today. Schedule your free consultation by calling 859.777.7000 or sending us an email. Hablamos español.
What happens to my assets if I die without a will or estate plan?
If you do not have a will or other estate planning documents, your estate will go through intestacy. This is the process through which the courts determine how to distribute the estate assets and property when there is no will or estate plan in place, whom those assets are to be distributed to and what debts need to be paid. Your loved ones will have no say in how the estate is handled.
Having a will can help avoid some of the probate process. Your will can detail all the aspects of your estate and the beneficiaries to whom you wish to provide the assets upon your death. Your wishes are preserved in a will, whereas dying without one leaves it to the courts to decide.
Is it possible to avoid the probate process?
With the proper estate planning tools, it may be possible to avoid the probate process. Any assets or property that are not protected by a trust or other asset protection document will need to go through probate to ensure proper distribution. Therefore, taking the time to structure the protection of your entire estate may avoid probate. As the structuring must be done in the correct way to avoid probate, an experienced lawyer can advise you on the steps to achieve that goal.
What kinds of trusts are there? What benefits do trusts offer?
Contrary to popular belief, trusts are not just for the wealthy. There are many different types of trusts that are designed to achieve different goals, including:
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts
- Charitable trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Asset protection trusts
In essence, a trust is designed to protect your assets for either your future use or the benefit of a named beneficiary. In some situations, a trust can be a way of legally avoiding estate taxes. A trustee is named to handle the trust throughout the life of the trust through the distribution of the contained assets.
How often should I change my estate plan?
Many people never revise their estate plans once they are created. Though not everyone needs to make changes, it is important to revisit your estate plan whenever you experience a major life event, such as a birth, death or divorce. If you created your estate plan when you were younger and are now approaching retirement, it may be a good idea to review your plan with an attorney to ensure that all the provisions you included are still applicable.