Still procrastinating putting your estate plan in place? Perhaps you think you don’t need it, or maybe it’s just not a subject that crosses your mind often. Whatever your reasons — whether you’re young or old, working or retired, single or married with children, an established professional or just starting out your career — you should absolutely start thinking about the type of estate plan you need to protect your finances, your family, and your legacy.
Here are some of the biggest reasons why everyone needs a proper estate plan.
1) It means your property goes exactly where you want it.
Even if you only have some modest savings to worry about, it’s important to understand exactly where the assets will end up after you’re gone. Without an estate plan, you leave that decision up to the government and the legal system.
For example, if you’re estranged from a sibling, or you want to leave sentimental items to a close friend, or you’re in a committed partnership (unmarried) and want to provide for your partner — the courts do not know this unless you create official legal documents to formalize your wishes. A thorough, tailored estate plan will reflect your priorities and the unique relationships in your life.
2) It protects your young children.
It is understandable that no parent wants to think about dying early, but estate planning is all about creating some security in the event that a worst-case-scenario comes to pass. If you should pass away unexpectedly, who will take care of your children until they turn 18? Once again, if you don’t specify a guardian, the courts get to decide who will raise your children in your place.
3) It outlines a clear plan for your heirs.
The estate you leave behind involves a lot more than just your savings account — it might include a home, a stock portfolio, a summer cottage, and a collection of smaller valuables, just to name a few possibilities. The more you have and the more diverse your assets, the more complicated it becomes for the courts to distribute everything. In many cases, that can lead to squabbling in the family as they argue over the assets they believe they are entitled to inherit.
Even if your estate is fairly simple, you can make the process easier on your family — and protect the people you care about most — by creating a clear, comprehensive estate plan. You can even specify who will take care of your finances, or make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated at some point in your life.
4) It saves your heirs money and time.
Another way to take care of your loved ones is to maximize the assets they inherit after fees, debts, and taxes have been taken into account. Estate planning tools like trusts can help you avoid the often lengthy and expensive (and stressful) probate process. These tools can also minimize the tax burden on your heirs or avoid estate taxes altogether.
Start the planning process
The best time to create an estate plan is, well, yesterday. If you’re behind, today is still an excellent day to get started! Because every situation is unique, it pays to ask an estate planning lawyer to determine the best estate planning documents for your needs. Contact Thomas-Walters Estate Planning to discuss your options with an experienced attorney.