Why estate planning can be an important step

People in North Carolina often want to enjoy a greater level of control and management of their assets and their future, even when facing declining health. This means that estate planning can be particularly critical not only to setting one's affairs in order but to securing peace of mind for oneself and one's family. Making an estate plan can be important for people with businesses and other sizable assets; however, it can also be a critical step for people with smaller estates who want to protect their loved ones.

The estate planning process is designed to put key documents in place, like wills, trusts and powers of attorney, to handle a person's assets during life and after death. While many people recognize that making such a plan can be important, 55 percent of Americans do not have a will, the most basic estate document. When people pass away without a will, their belongings are subject to probate and are distributed according to standard state law, regardless of what their preferences may have been during life.

There are several major advantages to the estate planning process. First, when drawing up an estate plan, an attorney can work to develop structures that minimize tax liabilities for the estate or a person's loved ones, including state as well as federal taxes. Furthermore, when assets go through the probate court, fees and costs can eat up some of the balance; planning for non-probate transfers can make this process cheaper and faster.

By developing a plan for one's estate, a person might not only avoid excessive taxes and fees but also maintain a level of control by creating trusts and other vehicles for asset management. An estate planning attorney may be able to provide advice and draw up documents that create a solid legal framework for implementing one's plans for their assets and their future.

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