An estate plan enables you to make decisions for your assets and estate, your healthcare and legal care at the end of your life, and other important life-planning choices. If you become incapacitated before your death, an estate plan ensures that you are cared for in the way that you want to be. After you pass, your estate plan outlines how your estate is to be distributed. A comprehensive estate plan allows your estate to avoid probate court, which is beneficial for your estate and your family members.
What Is in a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
There are many documents that can make up a complete estate plan, and they can adapt to the unique requirements of your estate. The most common documents found in a comprehensive estate plan include:
- A will. A will lists your assets and the heirs to those assets. You can appoint an executor to manage and distribute the will, and you can also name guardians for minor children in a will. Without a will, your assets are distributed according to state succession laws.
- Trusts. There are many types of trusts, but the most common is a living, or revocable, trust. A trust names assets and their beneficiaries, similar to a will, but it is its own legal entity. This allows the assets in trusts to avoid probate court.
- Financial power of attorney. If you become incapacitated or incapable, the financial power of attorney gives an individual you select the power to make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Healthcare power of attorney. If you are unable to make healthcare decisions, the individual listed in your healthcare power of attorney will make those decisions for you.
- Living will and medical directives. Part of a living will is medical directives, which outline what you do and do not allow for medical treatment. These can provide guidelines for a healthcare power of attorney.
Why Is It Good to Avoid Probate?
Probate is a long process, which can take several months or several years. Your estate will have to go through this process and be subject to Nebraska and federal inheritance taxes. In addition to the impact of taxes, your family will have to pay court fees. Until probate is complete, your heirs and beneficiaries cannot access your estate. This can add to financial difficulties while they are still mourning your loss.
By avoiding probate, you save your family and loved ones time and money while limiting the stress that they have to deal with. You would also provide them with the financial benefits of your estate and assets more quickly.
Comprehensive Estate Plan Benefits
The main advantages of having a complete estate plan are:
- Protecting Your Beneficiaries
Creating a will can prevent your estate from being subject to state inheritance laws. It also provides clear wishes and an executor to follow those wishes. Otherwise, the state will appoint someone whom you may not have chosen to distribute assets and manage your affairs. Creating a will can ensure that the ones you want to benefit from your estate receive those benefits.
While creating a will can lessen your family’s time in probate court and distribute your assets, a comprehensive estate plan can avoid probate court entirely. By using trusts, you can help your loved ones avoid this long and complicated process, saving them frustration and money.
- Knowing How You Will Be Cared For
A complete estate plan helps you protect your interests and ensures that you know how you will be cared for, even if you can’t make decisions yourself. Powers of attorney and your living will can outline your wishes and give legal authority to those you trust, giving you some comfort if you have a medical emergency.
- Safeguarding Your Estate
An estate plan protects your assets while you’re alive and keeps them safe to pass to your heirs and beneficiaries after your death.
Q: What Is an Advantage of Having an Estate Plan?
A: When your estate plan is comprehensive, you have the advantage of avoiding probate, which can take between months and years. This impacts your family’s time, resources, and money when they are still grieving your loss and dealing with the costs and legal affairs associated with your death. By avoiding probate, your estate can avoid federal and state inheritance taxes, and your family avoids the majority of legal and court costs.
Q: What Is the Purpose of an Estate Plan?
A: One of the main advantages of having an estate plan is being prepared for your future, including your own medical future, and the future of your estate. Your estate plan catalogs your assets, determines the beneficiaries for those assets, and places an executor and trustee in charge of the distribution of assets. By ensuring that your estate plan is legally enforceable and clear, you can be confident that your wishes will be followed at the end of your life and after your death.
Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Nebraska?
A: In Nebraska, any estate with assets will have to go through some form of probate. Estates valued under $50,000 qualify for a simplified probate process. This means that less than $50,000 in personal property would enter probate and/or less than $50,000 in real estate, minus mortgages or liens. Summary probate doesn’t take as long as standard probate. However, to fully avoid probate, other estate planning tools are necessary.
Q: How Do You Avoid Probate in Nebraska?
A: The most effective way to avoid probate is to plan ahead and have a complete estate plan in place. A comprehensive estate plan in Nebraska will likely include a trust or several trusts, depending on your unique needs. A living trust is an effective tool to keep your estate from entering probate. You can name yourself the trustee and place assets into the trust, keeping the assets safe. Because the assets are in a separate legal entity, ownership of those assets passes to the successor trustee after your death and not the state. The assets then avoid probate court.
Contact Stange Law Firm
To get these benefits, your estate plan must be straightforward, legally enforceable, and address the challenges unique to your estate, assets, and heirs. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Stange Law Firm, and let us help determine your needs for comprehensive estate planning.