Florida Estate Lawyer Sherri Stinson On Why Couples in Their 30s Should Have An Estate Plan in 2020
Industry: Legal Services
Having an estate plan is not just for the rich. In fact, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, wealth isn't even the biggest factor. Here's why and how to plan for 2020.
Palm Harbor, FL (PRUnderground) January 1st, 2020
“Rich people can afford to make mistakes with their estate plan,” says Palm Harbor Florida Estate Lawyer Sherri Stinson.
“Everyone else can’t.”
If you’re like most people, this type of advice seems to fly in the face of convention. It’s commonly accepted that wealthy people need estate planning, and everyone else… well, doesn’t.
However, the reality is somewhat counterintuitive.
Here’s why: People who do not have a lot of resources often cannot afford the costs of probate after an untimely death.
What this means is their family is typically saddled with sorrow and the expense of paying for a funeral and other afterlife expenses. To add insult to injury, anything that was owned by the person who passed is held up in court — with a healthy portion of the value of the estate going towards unnecessary probate fees.
What is Probate?
Probate is a legal process courts use to determine how a person’s property will be distributed upon their death, in accordance with intestate succession laws.
The purpose of probate is to:
Verify that the deceased person’s will is valid;
Identify what assets the deceased person owned;
Appraise the value of the assets and property;
Pay the deceased person’s remaining debts and taxes; and
Distribute any assets or property to the right beneficiaries
Each state has a process for deciding “who gets what” should a person pass without a living will or revocable trust.
In the absence of these two legal documents, it is up to a judge to decide (based on intestate laws) how the assets of the deceased party will be distributed to the proper beneficiaries or next of kin.
Ultimately, what this means is a lengthy (and costly) court process that typically requires an attorney and almost always results in the remaining family fighting over who is the rightful beneficiary.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
When you read the word “estate” it’s easy to conjure up images of mansions and palatial homes. Let’s face it, even a $400,000 “estate” is little more than a home (or condo, depending on where you live), some money in the bank, and a car.
The average cost of probate can range anywhere from 3% to 8%. So, even if we split the difference and say the average cost is 5%, you’re still looking at nearly $20,000 in probate fees if you unexpectedly die without having an estate plan — and that’s just if you own your home and don’t take the bus to work.
If you have a family to support and loved ones to take care of, would you rather that $20k go to your family or to court fees and lawyers?
Why You Need An Estate Plan in Your 30s
Most people in their thirties have children. The National Center for Health Statistics has reported the average age of a woman during her first birth is 26 years old.
Other reports show that the average age for first-time homebuyers is 33 years old. To say all this another way — by the time you reach your thirties you have a lot more to lose and a lot more to protect.
At thirty, you likely have a child (or two) and either has purchased your first home or are saving up for a down payment. You’re career-focused, realizing your twenties are a bygone era and stuck with the realization that you’re not getting any younger.
Whether you like it or not, life is going to drag you kicking and screaming into full-on adulthood.
Why an Estate Plan is Important
An estate plan is a living document that can change with each stage of your life in order to protect your family, your loved ones, and your assets in the best way possible.
“Creating an estate plan is deciding now what will come later,” says Sherri. “No matter what, the unexpected happens in life. An estate plan helps you anticipate the needs of your family after you’re gone and allows you to make decisions on what you want to happen should you be incapacitated. This means you are the one making the decision — not the courts or another family member.”
How to Create an Estate Plan in 2020
In the famous words of Forrest Gump: “It happens”.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know the rest. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.
Of course, with the proper planning and the right tools, you can protect your loved ones and last wishes in the best way possible.
Sherri M. Stinson, P.A. is a veteran Florida estate lawyer with 15+ years of experience. Get a free consultation today.