A basic Estate Plan includes a Will, Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and Power of Attorney for Finance. Wills are documents designed to enable you to pass on your assets to your loved ones at the time of your death. Under a Will, you can also name guardians and conservators to care for your minor children after your death. Executing a Will allows you to make decisions now about who will handle your affairs after you are gone, including the collection and distribution of your assets in accordance with your estate plan and payment of inheritance tax. When you prepare your Estate Plan, you are taking the steps to make your wishes known when you die and to choose the person who will handle your affairs, both in the event of your inability to make decisions and after you have died.
When it comes to Estate Planning, take Benjamin Franklin’s Advice: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” We know you don’t want to think about dying. But when you don’t take Estate Planning seriously, your loved ones will be faced with tough choices that may not be what you actually want. A well-established Estate Plan will help avoid chaos and extra costs when it’s done timely and not under pressure. Taking the necessary steps to establish a basic Estate Plan when you have the time to consider all your options is beneficial for several reasons:
Money Spent is Money Saved.
Establishing a good estate plan now can save extra costs later for you or your family. For example, if you have a properly executed Power of Attorney, your family can avoid the difficult process of filing for a guardianship or conservatorship over you. A Power of Attorney document is less expensive to draft and execute than filing for a guardianship in court. Plus, it’s something that you can put in place before a crisis happens.
Time to Think.
One of the most important steps in developing an estate plan is taking the necessary time to consider your options. By allowing ample time to think about the significant decisions that Estate Planning requires, you are giving yourself peace of mind in knowing you have a solid plan that you and your family can fall back on. Often times, we meet with families after someone has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or has already lost the ability to make decisions. This can limit the options available for Estate Planning. In those cases, the decisions are often forced and rushed due to the emergency circumstances. Do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of time – time to think and time to choose what is best for you.
Having a 30,000-foot view of your current estate assets, family dynamics, insurance needs and potential tax implications allows an Estate Planning attorney to develop the best plan for you. The more advance planning you undertake, the more likely you ar to be able to execute a plan that encompasses all your needs.
Estate planning is not only for the person signing on the dotted line. More often than not, the unintended beneficiary of a comprehensive estate plan is the family and loved ones who are caring for the person when they are sick and distribute their assets after they are gone. By executing a basic Estate Plan, you are allowing your family to place their time and energy with you if you become sick. From choosing a guardian for yourself and your minor children to division of your assets, having a proper plan ensures you have a voice in all stages of the process that your family can lean on for guidance.
Estate planning is more than just assets. And it is more than just passing wealth. Estate planning is about making sure you and your family are taken care of, no matter your stage in life. Give yourself the time to make a plan for you.