Who Needs Estate Planning?
Truthfully, nearly everyone should have an estate plan of some kind. This is because an estate is made up of everything you own, including your car, home, real estate, bank accounts, investments, insurance, and personal possessions like furniture, art, or firearms.
Large or small, everyone has an estate and everyone should have a plan for protecting and distributing that estate after death.
A good estate plan will also encompass much more than just the distribution of your wealth and possessions after death. It should also:
- Include instructions for your care if you should become disabled
- Name a guardian for minor children
- Name someone to help with the distribution of wealth and possessions
- Provide for family members with special needs
- Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability insurance to replace your income if you can’t work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance in case of an extended injury or illness.
- Provide for the transfer of your business at retirement, disability, or death.
- Minimize taxes and unnecessary court and legal fees.
- Be a working document, not a one-time event. Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and finances change over time, as well as when laws are updated that could affect your plan.
Why People Wait
Some people who tend to put off estate planning do so because they incorrectly believe that only the “wealthy” need an estate plan. But, the truth is, families with a modest amount of assets may need an estate plan more than those who are wealthy because they can’t afford to lose their families assets.
Some may also think that estate planning is only for retired people. However, no one can predict how long they’ll live, so it’s better to get an estate plan in place as soon as possible.
The Disadvantages of Not Having an Estate Plan
If you haven’t created an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to applicable state law as opposed to how you would want it distributed! In most cases, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share of your assets. The share received by your spouse may or may not be enough to live on. If your children are minors, the court will control their inheritance.
If you do not have financial and medical powers of attorney in place, then your loved ones will be forced to incur legal fees in order to make decisions regarding your medical care and to manage your finances. With those documents securely in place, however, you can still maintain control over your financial affairs and medical decisions even when you are not competent to do so at a future time.
Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather create an estate plan so you can have control over your assets and your medical decisions? Wouldn’t you prefer that matters be kept in private among family rather than being public knowledge? If you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them?
Stramel Law can help. They know how to help their clients protect their assets and keep private matters private with an estate plan, giving you and your family peace of mind.