Why Is It Important To Plan For Your Estate? Do We Have To Do It?
Estate planning is important because it basically allows you to control what happens to your assets when you pass away or become incapacitated. Estate planning is very difficult to talk about because it requires you to contemplate your own death and the possibility of becoming incapacitated. However, estate planning is an extremely important aspect of life that too few people act on, or take seriously. It’s like driving a car without insurance. You can do it, but it’s ill-advised. If you get into a crash without insurance, you’re going to be in trouble and you may be liable for damages. Insurance protects you from money damages and judgments. Estate planning also protects you. However, if you drive a car without insurance, it is possible you will not have an accident. Sadly, we are all guaranteed to die at some point, so from that perspective, it is much more dangerous not to have an estate plan in place because what we are planning for will happen at some point. There is no way to avoid it. That’s why an estate plan is vitally essential for every single person. A lot of people assume that you have to be rich or have large amounts of assets in order to have an estate plan in place, but that’s just not true.
Estate planning gives you the opportunity to have your assets, finances, and affairs in order and taken care of in the way that you choose for when you pass away or become incapacitated. If you don’t have estate planning in place, then the state and the federal government will decide how to divide your assets. Without a proper estate plan, it will make it much more difficult for your heirs and family to deal with your property. They’ll have to go to court and have the court approve, supervise, and oversee every single dollar that is transferred to your heirs. When I do an estate plan, I like to set it up so that the courts are left out of the equation. It’s generally a very smooth and seamless transition for your heirs to take over your property and manage it as you have designated.
In addition to property management, an estate plan also organizes your medical care. It allows you to establish who you want to make decisions on your behalf about your medical care in the event that you become incapacitated. It also allows you to let it be known whether you want extraordinary medical care in the event that you need resuscitation. Most people don’t like to talk about it, but it’s very important, and it’s almost negligent not to have an estate plan.
What Goals Should Proper Estate Planning Accomplish?
An estate plan will accomplish several things. The first thing that most people think about is their property. How do you want a property divided? Who do you want your property to go to? Who do you want in charge of your property? Who do you want to be in charge of the distribution of your property? When you have your estate plan, you can dictate every single one of those things. You can decide how the money is divided. And you can decide who is going to administer the division of property. If you don’t have an estate plan in place, then the state will handle that for you, and maybe it’s a division of property that you would want, maybe it’s not. But more importantly, it gets the courts involved. The majority of people need to hire an attorney to have an estate probated through the courts. My estate plans generally would avoid the courts.
Involving the probate courts is a lengthy process that we’d like to avoid if at all possible. When I create an estate plan, I set it up to avoid that whole aspect of the court system to allow things to seamlessly be distributed and managed the way that my client wishes.
The other aspect of estate planning is decision making for medical treatment. I prepare several documents that allow individuals to state whether or not they want extraordinary medical care in the event that they need resuscitation. The documents also instruct doctors as to who can make decisions in the event that you are incapacitated. Who’s going to decide what your medical care is going to be? If we have everything lined up, then it makes those difficult times much easier.
When Is It The Best Time To Start Planning For Your Estate?
There’s never a good time to start planning for your estate, but the sooner the better. Any time an adult has a regular job, any sort of asset or assets, if you have heirs, children, or property, they are a good candidate for estate planning. If you have a house you definitely want an estate plan. If you have children, you need to have an estate plan. Anyone who is concerned about what may happen to them if they become incapacitated medically, are people who are good candidates for estate planning. Besides minor children, there are very few people who do not need an estate plan.
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