When planning their estates, one thing that Washington residents often forget about is their pets. Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of all Americans own at least one pet, animals are often overlooked in estate plans. If you fail to plan, your furry companion could end up in a shelter or worse. To ensure that their pets receive the right kind of care, individuals should consider these four suggestions.
Estate planning is one of the things in life that people in Washington and around the country tend not to consider until they have to. It is not pleasant to think about or plan for death, but it is best to think about it sooner rather than later. When people fall ill unexpectedly, it can be a scramble to get affairs in order, and a basic estate plan can be established with only a bit of time and effort.
Washington residents who want to save for retirement may want to consider using an individual retirement account. If they decide to use an IRA, one of the things individuals should consider is to whom the funds should be left when they die. Some individuals may consider designating a trust as their IRA beneficiary.
Trusts give Washington residents more control over their assets than wills. In fact, having a trust might be just as important as maintaining a will. There are several instances in which a trust provides extra protection. For example, because a last will and testament only takes effect after death, an estate owner who is unable to make their own decisions might be the subject of a lengthy probate process to appoint a guardian. Naming a guardian in a living trust could help prevent this and other problems.
When people in Washington think about making a will or a trust, they may think first of their bank accounts, real estate and other forms of physical property. However, digital assets are becoming increasingly important in the estate planning world. As people live more of their lives online, access to digital accounts can be a critical aspect of planning for the future. Writing a will is often just the first step in developing an estate plan; people need to review their documents in the years to come to reflect changes to their lives as well as alterations to tax and estate law.
Most Washington residents, if asked, would likely acknowledge that everyone should have some form of estate plan in place. Despite that, a significant percentage of adults have not taken basic steps towards accomplishing that objective. Other than a reluctance to recognize one's own mortality, one reason for this seeming inconsistency may be confusion and lack of understanding as to what exactly an estate plan entails. Perhaps a clear understanding of the purpose the various documents in an estate plan serve will help provide greater incentive for individuals to prepare for the inevitable and better secure their future.
When Washington residents think about planning for the future and distributing their assets, they may consider making a will or even a trust, envisioning that this will make sure their wishes are carried out. However, what many people do not realize is that some of the largest and most important assets a person may have are often not controlled by a will at all, because they do not go through probate. Life insurance policies, retirement plans and investment funds often have a pay-on-death beneficiary, who will receive the payout after the original owner passes away.
Beneficiary designations can be an important part of an estate plan for people in Washington, but they are often mishandled. Retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance are among the assets that are passed using a beneficiary designation.
Tacoma residents who are creating an estate plan might wonder whether they should use a trust and if so, what kind. A living trust is one of the most flexible because it leaves the grantor in control of the assets. The person can move assets in or out of the trust, change beneficiaries or even cancel the trust.
Many Washington residents do not look forward to the estate planning process. This is because there are a lot of stressful elements to it. For instance, an individual may not know which documents to include or who to leave money or other assets to. It can also be stressful for the simple fact that no one wants to think about dying.