In Cincinnati and elsewhere, many people have concerns about the cost of doing an estate plan, especially in these recessionary times. Unfortunately, this often leads them to set up an estate plan by seeking the least expensive strategy, a simple Will. While this may be appropriate for some, there are situations where your Will should not be so simple. Consider these issues to decide whether you just need a simple Will:
- Split Families — If you have been divorced and/or have children from a prior marriage or relationship, you may want to take steps to assure that your property goes to the relatives you choose. If you are remarried with kids from your first marriage, will they receive your assets? Who will gain custody of minor children upon your death?
- Elderly Relatives – Do you provide financial or other care for parents or grandparents? Do you want to designate assets to continue this care after your death?
- Children with Differing Needs — Many parents choose in their wills to split assets equally among their children. However, this is not always the best solution. Have you already paid for one child’s education while the others are still school-aged? Do you fear that one of your children, perhaps under a spouse’s influence, will squander his or her share?
- Business Ownership – What will happen to your business in case of your sudden death? Do you want your family to own your portion of the business or should it pass directly to a partner or associate?
- Assets in Another State — Without proper planning, real estate that you own in another state ordinarily will have to go through that state’s probate, resulting in additional administrative and legal costs.
- Charity – Do you want to give all or part of your estate to charity? Have you designated recipients and amounts?
- Estate Tax – If Congress fails to agree on a new tax schedule before 2013, the first $1 million of your estate will be exempt from tax, a significant reduction from the current $5 million exemption. If your net worth approaches or exceeds $1 million in assets, estate tax planning can help you preserve many thousands of dollars for your heirs.
While this is not an all inclusine list, if any of these issues or questions apply to you, you likely need more than a simple Will. Don’t sacrifice quality for cost savings. Remember, the old saying, “cheapest isn’t always best.” When it comes to estate planning, an inexpensive will may cost more in the long run.
If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, see my estate planning website or contact Cincinnati attorney David H. Lefton at 513-399-PLAN (7526) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.