If you’re like most people, you know that you need a will. Creating a legal document that spells out what will happen to your assets after you die makes things a little easier for your family during a difficult time. What many people don’t realize, though, is that a will is often not enough. It’s a great place to start, but you’ll need a number of additional legal documents to give your family and friends peace of mind. You can do all of that with a virtual estate plan.
To create a virtual estate plan with eLegacy, you’ll work with our law firm to draft all the legally binding documents you need to protect your assets now and in the future. You’ll work with a team of three, with one head attorney that will be your main point of contact.
We are a full-service organization, and you won’t be left to wonder whether you’re secure or not. And this can all be done virtually, from the comfort of your home. If you want complete confidence that your assets will go where you want them to go, and you want a seamless transition for your heirs, you need a trust, along with a detailed estate plan.
1. An estate plan helps prevent unnecessary stress for your family when you pass away
Creating an estate plan allows you to decide who gets what, when they get it, and who will handle your assets. You’ll choose a successor trustee — someone who will be in charge if you pass away or become incapacitated. This goes a long way in minimizing stress and potential disagreements among your family members and heirs.
An estate plan often contains a will or trust, a power of attorney form and a healthcare proxy form. A durable power of attorney form appoints a relative or friend of your own choosing to manage your legal and financial affairs should you become incapacitated. A healthcare proxy form allows someone you choose to make healthcare decisions for you based on your wishes if you aren’t able to. Depending on your situation, you may need more legal documents to secure the future of your heirs, and to determine what happens to your assets. Our virtual estate planning attorneys here at eLegacy can talk to you about your options and what documents you may or may not need. You can create an entire virtual estate plan without having to come into an office.
2. Creating a virtual estate plan can help you avoid probate court
You may think that creating a will ensures a peaceful transition of your assets from yourself to your designated beneficiaries when you pass away. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Even with a will, you’ll often wind up having to go through probate court. Probate is a court process that can take months or years to complete and can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, even for modest-sized estates. Its role is to ensure that a deceased person’s debts are paid, and that their assets are allocated correctly. A will isn’t enough to keep your heirs out of probate court.
That can be avoided with a trust. A trust is defined as a distinct, legal entity that’s designed to hold your assets. Each trust is given a name. When you create a trust, you’re retitling things like your bank accounts, real properties, and investments under the name of the trust while you’re still living. You’ll still have complete control over all your assets, it’ll just be under a different name. You will then name one or more successor trustees that can take over if you die, or you are incapacitated.
Rather than go through probate, no legal proceedings are required and all of your affairs stay private, informal, cost effective, and efficient. Keep in mind that any asset you want protected in the trust must be retitled in the name of the trust. Anything not titled will have to go through probate. A trust is a vital part of your estate plan, and our virtual estate planning attorneys can guide you toward the path that’s right for you.
3. An estate plan maintains a level of privacy, even in death
Anything that passes through probate court becomes open record, including wills. If a trust is used, however, it is not required to be filed with the county court, and so does not become a public record. With a trust, you avoid all the details of your legacy being exposed and available to the public.
If you have a will only, your heirs are entitled to a copy of the legal documents since your property will have gone through probate court. This includes disinherited heirs and anyone named in the will. For example, if you pass on works of art to a friend, that friend is entitled to see the full contents of the will. Schedule a call with us to discuss ways to keep your will as private as possible.
Bonus: An estate plan forces you to get your affairs in order
What happens to your accounts if you pass away unexpectedly? What about digital accounts? Does your spouse have the passwords to your digital records? Do your heirs know how to find your life insurance information? If you’re like most people, those things are not all in one place. An estate plan forces you to itemize your accounts, including important phone numbers, websites, and passwords. Keep everything in one place for quick reference, even if you’re healthy and young. Struggling to find insurance information or other important documents is the last thing someone who is grieving should have to deal with.
There are many more reasons to create a virtual estate plan, but these are some of the ones we hear about most often. Only about half of people over the age of 55 have a will, and even fewer have an estate plan. While trusts are flexible, they can be complex.
Schedule a consultation with our team and let’s talk about what an estate plan could look like for you. Everything will be absolutely confidential and can be done from the comfort of home.