What Questions Do You Have About Estate Planning?

Many people put off estate planning because they don’t realize how important it is or they find it too overwhelming. At Tunnell & Raysor, we try to demystify the process and make it as easy and painless as possible.

We are an established law firm with a reputation for dependable legal advice and attentive service to our clients throughout Sussex County. Read below for some background information about common estate planning concerns. When you are ready to get your affairs in order, our lawyers can address your specific goals and questions.

What happens if a person dies without a will in Delaware?

If you died without a will, the Delaware laws of intestacy would dictate how your estate is distributed. A spouse is entitled to $50,000 plus half of the remaining estate. If you have no living spouse, your children inherit. After that, your parents and then your siblings are next in line. Stepchildren and grandchildren might get nothing. This is an oversimplification of a complex succession order. The main takeaway is that writing a will lets you decide who inherits and what part of the estate they each receive.

What is the difference between a health care directive and a health care proxy?

A health care directive, also known as a living will, gives direction to physicians and family members regarding life support and end-of-life care. A health care proxy is an individual empowered to make medical decisions if you become incapacitated, through a medical power of attorney. A thorough estate plan includes both documents.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process for administering the estate of the deceased. In Delaware, an estate must be opened in probate court if the person had at least $30,000 in personal assets or owned real estate. An executor or personal representative is appointed by the court to carry out the estate administration duties. Those tasks include gathering assets, paying debts and taxes and distributing the remaining assets. A probate attorney can be invaluable in guiding the executor and expediting the probate process.

What does a trust do?

A trust holds assets separate from your estate. One of the main purposes of a trust is bypassing probate – those assets pass directly to the beneficiary. Trusts can also help to protect assets from creditors or lawsuits or help a family member with disabilities retain eligibility for government benefits. Our lawyers can advise on different types of trusts to meet your specific estate planning goals.

Will my heirs have to pay tax on their inheritance?

No. The federal estate tax has been eliminated for all but the very wealthy (individuals with $5 million in assets or married couples with $10 million). Delaware’s estate tax has also been eliminated.

Are You Ready To Create An Estate Plan?

Our lawyers will sit down with you to answer your questions and customize your estate planning documents. To arrange your initial consultation, call our Georgetown office at 302-396-9645 or toll free 800-541-5443 or contact us online. We have five convenient locations.