There are two trains of thought for those who do not think they need a will. First, there are those of the mindset that they are young, healthy, and invulnerable and do not need asset protection at this time. Second, there are those who think they have nothing to pass over to the next generation.
At Law Offices of David M. Schlachter we like to think of a will as peace of mind. Once you write one you know you are protected, your interests and desires will be followed, and that is one less thing you have to worry about. Indeed, we like to think that "will" is a good word. Once you know the reasons for having one and how easy, inexpensive, and not burdensome it is to get a will drafted by our office, you will also think of it as a good word.
Remember, Estate Planning is not only planning for the next generation. It includes retirement planning and it also offers tools available to control assets and reduce income taxes. Estate Planning can also help shelter assets in order to qualify for certain government programs. Estate Planning also has the important function of reducing the burden on family of administering the estate.
Additionally, domestic partners have their own special issues when it comes to estate planning.
Clients with investments further require Estate Planning to reduce their tax liabilities and to protect the distribution of the income. IRAs, annuities, and retirement properties require proper Estate Planning.
Halachic or Kosher Wills have a provision that makes the document Kosher or legal under Jewish Talmudic Law. The laws of inheritance are different under Talmudic law and many Jews abide by these laws. While Biblical and Talmudic laws of inheritance do not provide for a last will and testament, the Halachic Will is a valid document under Talmudic law used to allows the drafter to distribute assets as the drafter sees fit. Thus, the Halachic Will is binding in American courts and Bais Din.
Our office drafts such a document, is familiar with Hilchos Yerusha, and also conducts the ceremonial kinyon suder. David M. Schlachter, our principal, received training in this area, including tutorial by Bain Din Mechon Lehoryoa of Monsey, NY, and is in contact with local authoritative Rabanim.
Trusts, and the other methods of estate planning, are very important tools when planning an estate. Some of their important features are:
Control and invest assets, pool assets from different jurisdictions into one to ease the probate process, simplify the probate process, protect assets from creditors, reduce taxes, reduce gross estate size, and helps large estate remain qualified for government funded resources like Medicaid and Special Education supplements. Our office is knowledgeable with and comfortable using an extensive list of tools and resources for the benefit of our clients' needs.
The items listed below are tools at your disposal which may accomplish a long list of goals. The list is not exhaustive. Please contact our offices to find out more.
Find out how we can help draft and plan your estate. No matter how simple or complex we can create a proper and cost-effective estate plan of you, today.
Q: What is a Will?
A: Wills are the quintessential document in an estate plan. A will tells your family, friends, the courts and government what you want to be done with your assets. There are several important provisions in a Will. These provisions include who your tangible property should pass to, who your intangible property should pass to, how you would like your spouse, children, or grandchildren to be taken care of with your assets, where you should be buried, and who should care for your minor children should you no longer be around to care for them.
A will is a legal document in which you obligate yourself to pass your assets onto your survivors. A will is governed by statute, and the passing of asset are governed by state and federal law. However, wills are very flexible and are tailor made to your needs.
Q: What is the procedure in making my Will?
A: The Will making process is easier than you may think. Law Offices of David M. Schlachter has innovated a cost effective, efficient, and unburdensome method in creating our clients' wills. It takes just two meetings and a couple of weeks for a standard estate plan to be created. Contact our offices to find out more.
Q: Why do I need a Will?
A: The simple answer can be illustrated by the following anecdote.
Farmer Jones came into an attorney's office and complained that Farmer Tom from down the road is stealing his cows. The attorney says he heard enough and will take the case. A half an hour later Farmer Tom came into the office complaining that Farmer Jones stole his cows. The attorney says he heard enough and will take the case. The young associate who listened to both consultations asked the attorney how the attorney will be able to give each farmer the cows. The attorney answered: Don't worry about the cows, the cows will be mine.
The simple answer to why you need a will is: Keep your cows.
In the above story "cows" represented assets. Assets come in all forms. Your assets include your tangible and intangible property, money, investments, retirement plans, life insurance, and copyrights. Assets also include your spouse or domestic partner, and children. Of course, your spouse and children are not your property but they are important considerations and should be provided protection.
Federal, state, and local government would like to stick their hands in your business and take your cows. An unfortunate reality is that extended family would also like to stick their hands in your pie. Minor children need to be planned for, as to who will care for them and what monies will be available to support them should you not be able to.
Wills control the distribution of your assets and protect your interests. A will, as part of a proper estate plan, can help eliminate estate and inheritance taxes, as well as provide the adequate protection to your loved ones. Wills also expediate and simplify the administration process and lessen the burden on loved ones.
If a person passes intestate, without a will, the estate must go through a lengthy administration process and the assets are divided by statute. It does not go all to your spouse. Statute requires other distribution and the estate may be highly taxed.
Additionally, proper estate planning is necessary to properly plan with retirement funds such as IRAs that have complicated income tax considerations.
A will is like an umbrella you stick in your work bag or purse and forget about. When that rainy day comes you will be protected.
Q: What protection does a Will provide me and my family?
A: Wills protect you and your family by carrying out your wishes. They direct where your assets go and how they are to be distributed. Planning can be implemented to eliminate estate taxes in some cases, or severely reduce estate taxes in others. Wills also control how the money is distributed. Especially in cases where there is a life insurance policy, windfalls are not beneficial to most recipients, particularly in cases where the beneficiary is not used to dealing with a large amount of money. Often the result is mismanagement and loss of the monies within a couple of years. Wills dictate how the monies should be distributed so as to be most beneficial to beneficiaries.
Wills also provide for guardians for minor children. They also provide for accounts to be set up to help support the children until they reach majority. Similarly, Wills provide for the care of pets.
Wills have other important provisions that streamline the probate process to lessen the burden on the survivors, reduce or eliminate taxes, and in the case where taxes are unavoidable, control which assets are taxed so that the remaining assets are gifted without reduction.
Q: Can I change my Will?
A: Yes. Wills can be changed. Simple changes are made through amendments, called codicils, while more drastic changes to the estate can be planned for by revising the will at a later date. A later will revokes all earlier wills.
Q: Do I have "assets" I am not thinking about?
A: As mentioned above, you may. Assets include all your property. Life insurance, pension, and retirement plan benefits are all assets. Stocks, bonds, and other investments, and their potential growth rate should be considered in planning. Minor children must also be provided for, in terms of support and guardianship. Real property and expensive tangibles such as cars and boats are also assets.
Q: Who are the players in a Will that I must think about?
A: The important players in the will are as follows:
Executor - The person that will wind up your estate and make sure the Will is properly probated
Trustee - The person that will collect all the assets that go into the testamentary trust, create it, and manage it.
Guardian - The person who will care for minor children