Attorney Keith D. Peterson lists the top three tips on why estate planning is imperative for Baby Boomers.
No one likes to think about their death. “However, leaving your estate unattended can be disastrous regardless of its size,” said business and estate planning attorney Keith D. Peterson, CPA, J.D. “You most likely have an idea of where you want your assets to go, but if you don’t properly plan for your estate’s distribution, your intended beneficiaries may not get what you wanted them to receive, and may even be subject to unnecessary taxes, extra administration costs, and contests from squabbling siblings.”
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are among the first generation who face retirement without the safety net of a defined pension plan. “Baby Boomers procrastinate planning for this inevitability,” Peterson noted. “They think someone else will make good decisions on their behalf or they say they’ll think about it if and when they get sick. ‘There’s plenty of time,’ they might say, or ‘there won’t be any money left when we die.’ Estate planning is not just for the wealthy.”
To further educate people on the benefits of estate planning, Peterson lists the following three tips:
No. 1: Ensure property goes to the intended heir(s) with the least amount of tax liability possible and probate avoidance. “Probate can be costly, stressful and time consuming, not to mention helping attorneys get rich. You should also name whom you wish to be the guardian of any minor children you may have, which can be accomplished through a Nomination of Guardianship,” added Peterson.
No. 2: Set up a durable power of attorney and health care directive. Without a proper durable power of attorney, if one suffers a tragic event as a result of illness or injury, leaving them unable to manage their finances, their family will be forced to establish a conservatorship of the estate through the court in order to assist them with finances. An Advance Health Care Directive allows the individual to select whom they want to sign medical waivers, make medical decisions should he/she be incapacitated. Without this document a conservatorship of the person through the court may be necessary. Conservatorships are difficult in that they must report all steps to the court and, more often than not, treated by the courts as if the conservator does not have the best motives.
No. 3: Estate plans should be done with care to prevent the possibility of one’s wishes not being followed. Wills that are not complete can be contested by other heirs in a court of law, which could result in one’s wishes not being followed. “While you can set up your own estate plan, it can be a risky proposition,” concluded Peterson. “It is best to seek the advice of an experienced estate planning and/or elder law attorney to ensure your wishes are followed. Your attorney can advise you as to whether a will alone is enough to secure your property or whether it would be best to set up further protection of your assets.”
About the Law Office of Keith D. Peterson
The Law Office of Keith D. Peterson practice areas include business formations and contract law; estate planning, wills, trusts and probate; real estate; construction and collection law; and taxation law. For more information, please call (281) 970-7001, or visit www.kdplaw.com. The law office is located at 9601 Jones Road, Suite 240, Houston, TX 77065.
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