Guest Post - Estate Planning

~ Posted on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 2:22 PM ~

Estate Planning
When it comes down to it, nobody wants to think about depressing or stressful subjects: when the next cycle of bill payments is due, how many days it is until the kids are on school holidays, or what to cook for the family’s next meal! With so many headaches in day-to-day life, it can sometimes be hard to cope when those big stresses pop up, like injuries, big bills that need to be paid, or even the discontinuation of your child support.

It may seem like you’re counting your chickens before the eggs have hatched, but estate planning is vital. Not only does it save your family undue stress, but it also takes a load off your shoulders as well – you won’t have to worry about how they’ll cope in the unlikely scenario that something bad may happen to you or your partner.

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Here’s a few things you need to consider when you start to look at estate planning.

A will is the most recognised form of estate division, outlining the payments of final debts and the allocation of assets. You’ll be relying on an executor to follow through with your wishes, although wills must go through a probate, which can be lengthy and expensive depending on where you live (the probate is a process where your will is tested to see if it is legally valid and all disputes are resolved).

Using a trust is like using a will for estate division; however, a key difference is in the fact that in a trust, the lengthy and expensive probate is avoided altogether. Instead of an executor, the title of the person in charge of managing your estate is the trustee.

In intestacy, the court will divide your possessions according to a formula provided by your state’s intestacy statute. This occurs when estate division is not specified, and can be one of the most emotionally and financially stressing situations for your family to dispute and resolve. You really want to avoid this because it will cause so much trouble for your loved ones.
While you can try estate planning by yourself, it’s probably best to go through this process with a professional. There are many potential disputes that may arise from vague conditions and oversights that will cause much undue stress to your family, and can result in the incorrect division of all of your life’s accumulated wealth – and in the end, it’s about making it easier for your family, not difficult.

** Article bio: Julia Smith was a full-time family lawyer, now full-time mum with several friends who have had issues with child support.