Wills and estate planning in Delaware

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you’ve chosen a great state to settle and presumably retire in. Delaware has numerous tax benefits, some of which become important after you pass away and your family distributes your estate.

Here are a few things to remember as you plan for that time.

If you don’t already have a will, take care of that

Less than half of adults in the U.S. have a will. Dying without a will at any age can make things difficult for your family.

Like most states, Delaware has intestate succession laws that kick in if someone dies without a will. These fixed laws distribute your assets without regard for relationships, estranged family members, ex-spouses and other complicated situations. If you want to ensure your assets go to the intended people, you should have a will prepared – and keep it updated.

Don’t forget the living will

These are your directives in the event you become unable to care for yourself. People of any age can experience unexpected incapacitation or end-of-life situations, so don’t disregard a living will just because you’re still relatively young.

A living will covers details like power of attorney and which medical efforts you would like, and would not like, performed to keep you alive in various situations. Without these sober directives, your family will be in the difficult position of making crucial quality-of-life choices under duress.

Make a complete list of all assets before you get started

By the time we reach middle age, we tend to have substantial assets scattered across numerous locations and accounts. More than you may realize. Compile a list of these assets before you start writing your will.

These assets might include several bank accounts, retirement accounts, 401k accounts, property, vehicles/boats, investments, jewelry, antiques & other luxury items, digital assets (cryptocurrency, websites) and intellectual property.

Consider naming an executor

If your estate is vast or you have a large family, consider naming an executor to ensure your asset distribution goes smoothly.

Inheritance and estate taxes in Delaware

One of the many benefits of being a Delaware resident is that your heirs will not have to pay inheritance taxes after you pass away, even if they live in a different state.

However, Delaware does have estate taxes, but these only apply to estates valued at more than $5.45 million for individuals and $10.9 million for married couples.

Have your will reviewed

If your estate is modest, you may not need a professional to draw up your will. Still, you should at least have a lawyer proofread it for any legal pitfalls or unclear phrasing that could result in unnecessary family discord.



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