Here’s Why You Need an Estate Plan

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By: John M. Lane

By: John M. Lane

John M. Lane specializes in estate planning, wills and trusts, probate administration, and elder law. He personalizes his approach to each client, striving to offer effective and efficient solutions. John graduated from Baylor Law School in 2003 and worked as a litigation attorney for over a decade at Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont before opening his Austin law practice in 2013. He values his faith, family, and community, and enjoys spending time outdoors playing golf and tennis with his sons and cultivating his organic garden.

Meet John M. Lane
No matter what line of work you are in, estate planning has facets that apply to everyone, and it comes down to documenting wishes and avoiding probate and unnecessary taxes. Too many people put it off, but, in general, the sooner you do it, the better.

It’s always the right time to do your estate planning, but it’s most critical when you have beneficiaries who are minors or with special needs, says the Capital Press in the recent article, “Ag Finance: Why you need to do estate planning.”

While it’s likely that most adult children can work things out, even if it’s costly and time-consuming in probate, minor young children must have protections in place. Wills are frequently written, so the estate goes to the child when he reaches age 18. However, few teens can manage big property at that age. A trust can help, by directing that the property will be held for him by a trustee or executor until a set age, like 25 or 30.

Probate is the default process to administer an estate after someone’s death, when a will or other documents are presented in court and an executor is appointed to manage it. It also gives creditors a chance to present claims for money owed to them. Distribution of assets will occur only after all proper notices have been issued, and all outstanding bills have been paid.

Probate can be expensive. However, wise estate planning can help most families avoid this and ensure the transition of wealth and property in a smooth manner. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney about establishing a trust. Farmers can name themselves as the beneficiaries during their lifetime, and instruct to whom it will pass after their death. A living trust can be amended or revoked at any time, if circumstances change.

The title of the farm is transferred to the trust with the farm’s former owner as trustee. With a trust, it makes it easier to avoid probate because nothing’s in his name, and the property can transition to the beneficiaries without having to go to court. Living trusts also help in the event of incapacity or a disease, like Alzheimer’s, to avoid conservatorship (guardianship of an adult who loses capacity). It can also help to decrease capital gains taxes, since the property transfers before their death.

If you have several children, but only two work with you on the farm, an attorney can help you with how to divide an estate that is land rich and cash poor. Click here to Book a Consultation with an estate planning attorney today!

Reference: Capital Press (December 20, 2018) “Ag Finance: Why you need to do estate planning”

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