Why estate planning?
Whether you find yourself with millions in assets, or merely hundreds, proper estate planning is vital. Common objections to estate planning are limited resources and a feeling of morbidity. The term “estate planning” may seem pretentious, and you may believe that you do not have an estate. In reality, your estate is made up of your assets—your home, vehicles, life insurance, retirement, bank accounts, etc.
In addition, estate planning does not have to be morbid. Instead, it is an opportunity for you to plan for the lives of those you care about most and to ensure that they have what they need to be successful and happy. Regardless of your situation, taking the time to meet with an attorney and plan your estate allows you several benefits:
- Providing for your family
No one wants to spend time and money in probate court, yet that is exactly where many people end up because of a lack of estate planning. Wills are essential to ensuring that your plans and wishes are followed without delays and court costs. And if you have children under 18, both parents should have a will naming guardians for those children. Otherwise, the court will decide where your children will live and who will make decisions about their care.
- Designating beneficiaries or creating a trust
For many assets, such as life insurance policies or tax-deferred accounts, you can assign a beneficiary, allowing your money to go directly to your designee. However, other assets, such as a bank account or property, do not allow a beneficiary to be designated. Your will can designate your wishes, but the will does have to go through the court. If you want to avoid probate altogether, one way is to create a revocable trust. This minimizes expenses and leaves more for your beneficiaries.
- Choosing executors
Executors (for a will) or trustees (for a trust) administer the assets of the estate. This is an important role, and this person (or persons) should not be chosen lightly.
- Planning for your care
Making decisions about living wills, durable health-care powers of attorney, and/or funeral arrangements are all possible through estate planning. These decisions will allow for your wishes to be carried out, and they will relieve your family from having to make those decisions in moments of high stress and emotion.
- Review your plan
State laws are specific on different aspects of wills and estate plans. If you have moved to a new state since making a will, you will want to meet with a legal expert to review the will and revise it as necessary. You may also need to update executors, edit beneficiaries, or change guardianship for your children.
These benefits are only a general summary of the importance of estate planning. In your particular circumstance, you may benefit from other avenues of planning as well. For more information, or to speak with a lawyer, contact Baron Law at 216.276.4282 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.