While it’s easy for people to put estate planning on the back burner due to busy schedules or thinking they have plenty of time to get around to it, doing so can result in property and financial assets passing to unintended heirs in unintentional ways.
Additionally, people fall into the belief that estate planning only benefits the very wealthy, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s something everyone needs to engage in, regardless of age, estate size, or marital status.
If you have a bank account, investments, a car, or a home or other property, you have an estate. More importantly, if you have a spouse, minor children, or other dependents, an estate plan is critical for protecting their interests and their future income needs.
An estate plan is also important if you want to leave behind a legacy for your family for years, if not decades, to come.
An estate plan can help you accomplish the following goals:
- Name the family members, loved ones, and organizations you wish to receive your property following your death.
- Transfer property to your heirs and any organizations you’ve named in your estate planning documents in an expedient manner with as few legal hurdles as possible.
- Minimize or eliminate estate taxes.
- Name your personal representative and/or trustee — the individuals or institution you appoint to act as your proxy in settling your estate and distributing your property.
- Avoid probate — the court process for proving that a deceased person’s will is valid and administering a decedent’s estate.
- Document the type of life-prolonging medical care you do or do not wish to receive should you become incapacitated.
- Express your wishes and preferences for funeral arrangements and how related expenses will be paid.