One of the biggest misconceptions with Estate Planning is that it is only for the rich. When you hear the words “Wills, Trusts, or Estate Planning,” many people feel as though they have nothing to leave and it’s not worth the money. Some also think that despite having children, they are too young to worry about those plans.
Those thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth.
Do you own property? Do you have assets in multiple states? Do you have children? Do you have a small business? Would you like to reduce taxes in transferring assets? Would you like to disinherit a certain child from receiving anything? Would you like to leave some of your assets to a charity?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should certainly consider creating your estate plan. The question becomes how simple or complex does YOUR plan need to be. An estate plan is part of planning for the eventual passing of your life. There are many objectives that people have in mind when they begin to plan and not all of them deal with money.
An estate plan is a process of planning for the administration and preparing for the eventual passing of your life. There are many objectives that people have in mind when they begin to plan and not all of them deal with money.
1. AVOID CONFUSION WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR FINAL WISHES
Our lives are constantly changing – from the people we know and love to our hopes and wishes. Who you express your personal wishes to at different points in your life will almost certainly change as well. The problem is, without those wishes being put to paper, it is very hard to distinguish what you wanted from what the people around you now want.
Confusion like this isn’t necessarily limited to finances. Can you imagine a messy legal battle to determine whether you should be cremated or buried? Fights like that are not as uncommon as you may think. To spare your loved ones such arguments once you’ve passed, it is best to express your desires in a will. If you’d like your ashes scattered from the top of the highest mountain or sent off to sea, it’s absolutely necessary that you express that in writing.
2. ENSURING THAT YOUR CHILDREN HAVE THE LEGAL GUARDIAN OF YOUR CHOICE
When it comes to children, many feel there is no cost too high in making sure their sons and daughters are taken care of properly. As part of an estate plan, you can express your desire as to who should be appointed to take care of your children. Unless you’ve designated someone to care for your children, whether it be a family member or friend, you will be leaving the decision to a judge who may have never even met you or your children before.
3. PROTECTING LOVED ONES BY ENSURING THEY RECEIVE YOUR ASSETS
If you die without an estate plan that includes a will, you are considered to have died intestate. When that happens, the state where you live determines who gets your assets as prescribed under the state’s inheritance laws. This may mean that some of the people who you love will receive nothing. Worse yet, if there is no one that fits the law’s criteria for inheritance, guess who keeps your assets? The government!
4. HELPING TO REDUCE OR AVOID CONFLICT AMONG FAMILY MEMBERS
Most of us sincerely hope our deaths will not results in conflicts for our families. Unfortunately, it is practically inevitable there will be some level of disagreement and the best way to try to avoid that is with effective estate planning. Having a plan is a must, especially if you are in a non-traditional relationship: you have chosen to cohabitate without being married; you have been married more than once; and/or, if you have children under either circumstance. If you have children from a previous marriage, your estate planning is even more important, as your current spouse may not be inclined to share your estate with your children unless they are required to do as based on the provisions of your will. The last thing you want to do is unintentionally disinherit someone you love because you failed to implement a plan for the proper distribution of your estate.
5. MINIMIZING TAXES AND LEGAL EXPERIENCES ASSOCIATE WITH YOUR ESTATE
Proper estate planning helps avoid probate taxes and costs. Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one during our life time. For most it is a very difficult and challenging process. Not all of us have estate lawyers on call to handle the legal matters during this difficult time. While your friends and family are sympathetic to your passing, the federal and state governments are not always equally compassionate when it comes to a timely wrapping up of your financial life.
When you pass, you will leave behind a tax burden and very complicated financial matters. These are issues that must be addressed in accordance with the law. Many of those who are not tax attorneys or accountants struggle with filing our annual income taxes each year. Inheritance and estate taxes are much more complicated. Without an estate plan, loved ones handling your financial matters will generally not be aware of all of your assets, let alone the legal and financial process to satisfy the government’s expectations. While struggling with the loss of your life, they also have to struggle with filing deadlines and publication dates. A lot of this stress can be avoided by proper estate planning.
6. WEALTH PRESERVATION FOR YOUR INTENDED BENEFICIARIES
We work hard for the money we earn during our life. One of our primary reasons for working is not only to live for now but to plan for the future and to provide for our loved ones. The most significant part of providing for our loved ones is to make sure that as much of our earnings and assets transfer to them and not to taxes. A properly prepared and administered estate plan will allow you to provide the lion’s share of your assets to the individuals you choose.
7. FLEXIBILITY FOR YOU BEFORE YOU DIE
It is safe to say that your needs will change as you age. Estate planning can be permanent or can be flexible. Over time beneficiaries may change, different guardians may be appointed, and you may wish to change your trustee designation. When you seek estate planning advice, you should seek appropriate counsel who will be there for you during these changes in your life.
RICK | LINN offers very attractive and customizable packages for your estate planning needs. Packages start as low as $125 per document. When you become our client, we become one of your most trusted and best friends for the rest of your life. Give us a call today to schedule a free estate plan review.