Estate planning is important not only for the rich and famous, but even more so for everyday families. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common- you can’t take it with you when you die. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest estates, because they can afford to lose the least. Estate planning is making a plan in advance and naming who you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, a good estate plan is much more than that. It should also:
- Be able to protect assets in the event you have to go into a nursing home
- Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die
- Provide for yourself or a loved one if you or they become incapacitated
- Decide who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself
- Decide who will manage your assets for you if you are alive and unable to manage them for yourself
- Give what you have to whomever you want, the way you want, and when you want
- Avoid probate
- Protect your children from divorce
- Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce
- Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits
- Name a guardian and an inheritance manager if you have a minor child
- Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death
- Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees
- Maintain privacy of assets, trusts are not public records
- Make provisions for digital assets/online accounts
- Include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
Individuals procrastinate with their estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused, and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think about it. Then when something happens to them, their families has to pick up the pieces.
None of us like to think about our own mortality or the possibility of being unable to make decisions for ourselves. This is exactly why so many families are caught off- guard and unprepared when incapacity or death strikes. Don’t wait! You can put something in place now and change it later….which is exactly the way estate planning should be done.
Knowing you have a properly prepared plan in place- one that contains your instructions and will protect your family- will give you and your family peace of mind. This is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and those you love.