Planning a vacation is a lot more fun than planning for death, disability or needing long-term care. However, putting off estate planning means missing an opportunity to gather our thoughts on what kind of a legacy we want to leave behind, how we want to be cared for if we can’t speak for ourselves and what kind of end-of-life care we’d want.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you own, if you have a family, you need an estate plan. It’s a way to document your wishes for what you want to happen, when you die. Some of the big questions that estate planning addresses are outlined in an article from Montrose Press titled “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future.”
What will happen to my children? As part of your estate planning, you should name a guardian to take care of your children, if you pass away. You can also name a conservator–sometimes called a “guardian of the estate”–to manage the assets that your minor children inherit.
Will there be a battle over my assets? If you fail to put a solid estate plan in place, your assets could be subject to the time-consuming, expensive and public probate process. During probate, your relatives and creditors can get access to your records. They may even challenge your will. However, with proper planning, you can maintain your privacy.
Who will control my finances and my living situation, if I’m incapacitated? You can sign a durable power of attorney. This permits you to name someone to manage your financial affairs, if you’re incapacitated. A medical power of attorney lets the person you choose handle health care decisions for you, if you’re not able to do so yourself.
Will my family feel cheated if I leave significant assets to charities? As part of your estate plan, you have options. You could establish a charitable lead trust. This will provide financial support to your chosen charities for a set period. The remaining assets will then go to your family members. On the other hand, a charitable remainder trust will provide a stream of income for family members for the term of the trust. The remaining assets will then be transferred to one or more charitable organizations.
An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through these and other questions and create an estate plan that will allow your wishes to be realized. Once that plan is in place, you’ll be able to focus on the future, knowing that you’ve taken care of the ones you love.
Reference: Montrose Press (July 7, 2019) “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future”