When to Start Estate PlanningFor many people, estate planning seems like something that should happen in the distant future.  This perception may be especially true for young adults who believe estate planning is more appropriate for older individuals.  Likewise, people who do not have significant estates or do not have small children may think that estate planning is not a priority.   However, no matter your age or circumstances, the time to plan for your estate is today.  Here are some reasons why:

Estate planning provides individuals an opportunity to get critical documents in order so that in the event of their death, their assets will be passed according to their wishes.  Without an estate plan, these assets will be passed according to Michigan law rather than the preference of the owner.  While it may seem inconsequential to some, planning how your estate will be distributed will relieve your loved ones of the burden of having to endure a lengthy and expensive probate process as they settle your estate.  Additionally, by having a plan in place, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your estate is in order and that your loved ones will be prepared to honor your wishes.

Estate planning provides you with the ability to manage your assets in a financially beneficial manner that would not be available absent certain estate planning documents.  For instance, without planning, your estate may be subject to tax consequences which will ultimately deprive your beneficiaries of its full value.  Planning now you could place assets into a certain type of trust which you can derive benefit from during your lifetime.   These same assets can also be protected from estate tax and continue to benefit designated beneficiaries.

Another consideration is what will happen to your estate in the event that you become incapacitated.  While some believe incapacitation is something that primarily accompanies old age, a person can become incapacitated due to medical or mental health conditions at various ages.  By planning for such an event early, you will have an opportunity to ensure that your care and your estate will be in the hands of a person of your choosing rather than according to a court’s decision.

For parents of young children, an estate plan is critical in that it will help determine who will care for the children in the event of the parents’ death.  Not having a plan in place may mean that the children’s care will be decided by a court rather than according to what the parents would want for their children.

There are many reasons to consider starting your estate plan.  While the necessity of such a plan may seem remote, circumstances can quickly arise which a thoughtfully prepared estate plan can be essential in addressing.  Knowing that you are prepared will ensure your wishes are honored, and your assets are protected.   Our office has attorneys and other sources who understand estate planning and can help you contemplate all of your choices to help make informed decisions. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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