Don’t Wait: Plan Your Estate
There are many ways to structure an estate plan but there is only one key rule: Don’t wait. Too many people delay creating an estate plan until there is a medical emergency or devastating diagnosis, which makes the process rushed. Even worse, they don’t make an estate plan at all and unforeseen circumstances leave their children and other loved ones with no guidance regarding the care and financial support of their children, or any information about how to distribute their assets. An estate plan addresses these issues, and more.
Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan
There are many reasons why you should contact an estate planning attorney without delay, the first being that you don’t know what the future holds. An estate plan is the best way to accomplish the following:
- Make your Wishes Known. Telling a friend or relative how you want your estate administered after you are gone is not legally binding. The best way to assure that everything is managed as you want is to create a plan and properly executing the documents that set this plan to legally enforceable document.
- Avoid Excessive Taxes. Planning your estate can help to minimize tax liabilities. Also, working with an estate planner assures that beneficiaries on accounts are current. Having beneficiaries who have predeceased you will cause that income to be paid to their estate instead of their children, which will result in significant tax consequences.
- Know that Minor Children are Cared For. Without specific instructions about who will care for your children in the event of your death, they could be shuffled from family member to family member or placed in foster care until guardianship is established. Protect your children from this further disruption of their lives by establishing a guardianship plan and confirm that the people you appoint are ready, willing, and able to step in if needed.
- Avoid Delayed Distributions. While someone may be named in a will as a beneficiary, they will not receive the bequest until after the will is probated and all debts are settled. With proper planning, an estate can avoid probate altogether, saving time and money.
- Avoid Unintended Distributions and Omissions. An estate plan is a comprehensive plan that assures that it will be administered appropriately. Without this plan, divorced spouses may remain as an insurance beneficiary or an adult child may receive all of the income in a bank account that was intended to be shared. In addition, if you name one person as the beneficiary of your life insurance and someone else to receive your entire estate in a will, the beneficiary has the right to your life insurance regardless of what is in your will. Many of these issues are irrevocable and can leave your intended beneficiaries with less than you intended.
- Gain Peace of Mind. Working within an estate planning attorney helps to assure that your estate will be cohesive, provide care for your children, distribute assets as you choose, and reduce the potential tax burden on your beneficiaries. Working with an estate attorney also assures that your estate is updated to address the birth and death of family members, that it meets current legal requirements and will be modified to address changes in the law.
Sometimes the hardest part of establishing an estate plan is simply getting started, but we are here to help. At Life Counsel & Planning we will work with you to identify assets, understand your wishes, and create an estate plan to achieve them. We have the expertise to create a plan regardless of its complexity or special factors. Don’t wait to get started. Call us at (904) 638-2345 or go online to schedule your free consultation.