Many people mistakenly think they don’t need to worry about an estate plan since they are young, they are single, or they don’t own a lot of assets. Even many wealthy individuals don’t realize the benefits of creating a solid plan or the potential consequences of not having one.
Every adult needs estate planning. If you don’t have a plan, you’re at risk. Couples who have children want to be the one who makes the decision of who’s going to raise those children as their legal guardian in the unfortunate event that both of them pass away. An estate plan can dictate how the funds are spent by the legal guardian to benefit the children.
People who own real estate, investments, or other assets, regardless of their marital status, want to decide where the property goes after they pass away. In the absence of an estate plan, the distribution of the assets may not be how the individual would have preferred and could cause issues among family members who feel they have a right to those assets. In the absence of an estate plan, the estate must go through the probate process which can be lengthy and frustrating to beneficiaries.
Estate Planning Contains Instructions for Decisions While You are Alive
What most people don’t realize about estate planning is that much of the planning deal with decisions that impact them while they are still alive.
Part of any estate plan is the medical directive, which assigns a person who is legally allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of the person creating the estate plan in the event he or she becomes incapacitated.
A medical directive also contains the end-of-life directive, which is the owner’s instructions on palliative care and medical devices to be used to prolong his/her life.
Another important part of an estate plan that involves decisions while the owner is still alive is the financial power of attorney. If the owner becomes incapacitated and somebody needs to access bank or investment accounts on their behalf (e.g., to pay bills, handle financial affairs, etc.), it can be difficult for these issues to be handled without having a power of attorney document established.
Much of estate planning has to do with things that affect you while you’re still alive, as well as things that affect your children and other beneficiaries after you’ve passed away. Anyone who is over the age of 18 could benefit from an estate plan. The type of estate plan we create with you will depend on the types of assets you have, whether you have children, and other factors.
If you have any questions about estate planning and whether you need an estate plan, please give us a call. We’d be happy to learn more about your situation and see if we might be able to help.