If you die without a will or estate plan in place, the laws of the state that you live in will control where your assets go. There's no way to know for sure if your assets will go to your intended beneficiaries. Also, there will be excessive costs for those that have to administer your estate.
Most estate plans consist of a will, a trust agreement, a living will, a power of attorney for healthcare, and a financial power of attorney. However, any estate plan can be customized to fit your needs.
Here at DuPont & Blumenstiel, we have what's called a 2:2:2 Guarantee. This means its will only take 2 meetings, spanning over 2 weeks, taking 2 hours of your time total to prepare an estate plan for you.
Make sure to speak to an attorney about updating your will when you go through major life changes such as having children, inheriting money, or as you go through the phases of life such as entering retirement.
Although it's easy to think you can create an estate plan for yourself using online tools, these cookie-cutter programs don't accommodate for complex situations. When you try to do it yourself, you might not understand some of the nuances involved in the process, and end up causing problems in court for your intended beneficiaries down the line.
Most people are aware of, and fear, the general estate tax. However, currently this type of tax doesn't really kick in until you have millions of dollars built up in your estate.
The biggest tax that most people face in their estates currently is the deferred income tax in their retirement accounts. It's important to take certain steps as early as possible to reduce your bill to Uncle Sam.