Our Durham estate planning attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® provide assistance with creating an estate plan and with updating your plan as your life changes. It is important to have a plan in place to protect yourself and your loved ones. While many people believe they can wait until they are a senior to make a plan, this is a mistake as there are no guarantees you will make it to old age with your health intact. Ideally, your’ll put a solid plan in place and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you got your affairs well organized. Then you will make modifications through the years to keep it that way.
Change is a constant in life and some changes can making . Some changes can make the creation of a comprehensive estate plan especially important. Our Durham estate planning attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® will help when change effects your life.
Let’s talk about a few specific circumstances which can make it particularly important to get legal help.
When You Get Married
If you are contemplating marriage, you should first consider putting a premarital agreement in place. Whether you have taken this step or not, having gotten married, you now have a spouse who may be economically dependent upon you or who may rely on you for meeting the shared responsibilities of your lives. If your wife or husband needs part of your salary to pay the mortgage or if you acquire property together, you need to work with an experienced attorney to make sure your death or incapacity doesn’t cause financial or legal hardships for your spouse.
You should create or update a last will and testament or revocable trust to make sure your spouse inherits at least some wealth, while also taking care of other family members such as children from outside of the marriage.
After marriage, it may become important to understand how your marriage could help you to save on estate tax if you have a larger estate. If you did not get a premarital agreement, you need to understand how the statutory inheritance rights of your spouse may impact your planning.
When You Get Divorced
The end of your marriage means you need to update any plans you put in place to provide for your husband or wife after your death. An experienced attorney can help you adjust your last will and testament, change the beneficiary on your life insurance and retirement accounts, and make other modifications appropriate after the end of your marriage.
These changes include working with you attorney to put in place new agents so that a person of your choice will be able to exercise decisions about your legal financial and medical decisions.
Because you no longer get the benefits of estate tax protections that come from leaving wealth to a husband or wife, it may also become important to make an alternate plan to protect your estate from losses due to a large estate tax bill.
When You Have a Child
As a parent myself, I can say without a doubt that having a child was one of the most profound changes in my life. Parenthood brings not only more responsibilities but often a fundamental change in your view of your place in the world. Your children depend on you. Your spouse likewise counts on you to contribute to meeting the responsibilities of parenthood. You should work with an estate planning lawyer to make sure you can provide for your child until adulthood, even if something happens to you. This may mean the purchase of life insurance, making important decisions about family owned businesses, and certainly includes thoughtful choices about how people inherit from you. For example, you may want to leave funds to your spouse in the event of your death subject to the condition that those assets are used to meet your children’s needs through college and, if not otherwise used, pass to your children at the death of your spouse.
Buying life insurance can be vital when you have a child, but buying the insurance is not enough. You need a trust for your child so the assets can be protected for the child, used wisely and only as needed, with someone else managing those assets until the child is ready.
Without a trust for management of an inheritance, these life insurance proceeds may end up being controlled by a court supervised guardian. This is a very undesirable arrangement which ultimately results in the children getting all of the remaining assets, with no supervision, immediately after turning 18.
When You Acquire Valuable Assets or Divest Yourself of Assets
If you acquire new assets, you’ll need to select appropriate estate planning tools to make sure those assets can be managed efficiently. You may also wish to take steps to protect your assets. If you divest yourself of wealth, you should also update your plans to ensure all of your family members are still provided for based on the current money and property you have.
When You Are Diagnosed with a Serious Illness
Being diagnosed with a serious illness means you need to make plans for what happens if you become incapacitated. You should work with an experienced attorney to determine if you can make a plan to protect assets, if you might be eligible for Medicaid benefits to cover you if you need nursing home care or other costly medical services. Your experienced attorney can also help you to make medical decisions in advance, to appoint a healthcare proxy to make decisions on your behalf, and to take steps to secure your legacy.
Getting Help from Durham Estate Planning Attorneys
These are some of the many situations Clarity Legal Group® can help with. To learn more about the circumstances where making an estate plan becomes essential and to find out how we can help as your life changes, give us a call at 919-484-0012 or contact us online today.