The Importance of Planning Early

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

-Alan Lakein 

As we head into 2019 many of us are planning our ideal year. We are creating goals and planning implementation strategies. We are filling our calendars with workout times,           vacations and new adventures. However, when it comes to planning how our estate and loved ones we will be taken care in the event of tragedy, many of us prefer not to think about it – believing it will somehow all work out. Unfortunately, when it comes to estate planning, those who fail to plan are the ones who risk losing the most. 

Consider the scenarios below. 

The Facts

Bill is 64 and Diane is 59. They are retired and have been enjoying traveling and grandchildren. During a visit with their youngest child, they were asked whether they had made plans in the event one of them suddenly got sick or died. Bill and Diane had not thought much about this since both of them were in good health. 

Bill and Diane own a home that is valued at $525,000. They also have a vacation home in Vero Beach as well as three bank accounts valued at $800,000. 

Scenario  #1 

Bill and Diane spoke with an estate planning attorney. With the help of their estate planning attorney, they placed their home, vacation home, and bank accounts in a revocable living trust. They named themselves as trustees and beneficiaries of their trust. This allowed them to have full access to their assets and created a smooth transition for successor trustees and beneficiaries. 

Unfortunately, Bill died 8 years later; however, because he and Diane planned ahead, the need for probate was eliminated which saved Diane additional heartache, confusion and money. Their children were able to easily help their mother navigate the trust and assets. Preplanning made the legal process smooth for everyone. 

Scenario #2 

Let’s assume that Bill and Diane did not plan. When Bill had a stroke and died at 72 years old, Diane was left to administer a probate estate. Their Vero Beach home and one checking account were only in Bill’s name. The bank would not let Diane access that account until a probate was opened. The two assets totaled $500,000 and attorney’s fees for the probate equaled 3% of the probate estate per Florida Statutes. Diane paid her attorney $15,000 and waited years for the beach house and checking account to be distributed to her as the beneficiary. 

This was a long and tiring process for Diane. While her attorney held her hand and made it as simple as possible, she could not dictate the timing of the courts and the overall path of the probate.

Conclusion

The scenarios highlight the importance of seniors and their loved ones planning early. There are not only financial benefits to doing so, but also numerous non-financial benefits, including peace of mind, reduced stress and keeping family matters private and out of the court system. 

Our law firm helps families plan, whether it is years in advance or after a health crisis has occurred. We would be honored to assist you with your estate planning needs.