There are many misconceptions about estate planning that have developed over the years. Many people have developed the assumption that an estate plan is unnecessary in their situation or that they are only for the rich. Neither of these are true, but they are likely part of the reason why 60% of Americans lack a will or an estate plan. Contrary to popular belief, estate plans are for everyone. You do not need a large estate to have an estate plan. Estate planning is for anyone who is wants to make it easier for their loved ones to handle their affairs in a moment of grief.
Benefits of Estate Planning
There are several reasons that get people to seek help from an estate planning attorney or begin drafting a will online. The benefits of estate planning are hard to deny once you have done your research. If you are still deciding if an estate plan is right for you, then carefully consider the following benefits of estate planning:
- Avoid Probate: Probate is a costly and time-consuming process in which a court oversees the transfer of their assets after he or she dies. Since all probate court proceedings are available to the public, this process is usually very invasive of privacy. People wanting to avoid this process and maintain privacy can take certain measures in their estate plan to help them do so.
- Protect and Provide for Children: A will allows an individual to name a guardian for minor children in case of both parents’ passing. You can also leave assets for them to use and benefit from later on in life.
- Protect Yourself: It is not uncommon for a person to experience a moment of incapacitation just before they die. You can plan for this moment of disability by creating a living will and a power of attorney for health care. These two documents allow you to decide beforehand how you want to be taken care of as well as appoint someone to make medical decisions for you when you cannot.
- Stay in Control of Your Finances: By creating an estate plan, you are maintaining control of your finances, even after your death. This is the only way to ensure that your assets are distributed the way you want them to be.
- Reduce Estate Taxes: Estate planning is one way to decrease or eliminate federal and state estate and inheritance taxes. By setting up certain types of trusts and using advanced estate planning techniques, a married couple can reduce their estate and inheritance bills.
What Happens if I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
So if only 40% of Americans have an estate plan, what happens to the other 60% that die without one? Those people that die without a will or living trust will have their property and assets distributed according to state law. In these instances, there is no way to ensure that your estate is distributed the way you would like. This process can also take time and money leading to conflicts between family members during a time of grieving. Creating an estate plan allows individuals to choose to whom their assets will go and when. It is the only way to ensure that things are done the way you want them to.
When Should I Start Planning?
There is no set time to start creating an estate plan. It is different for each individual and depends on your life situation and circumstances. While an estate plan may not be relevant for a young and single, college student, it might be much more applicable to a married couple with children. Blended families and families with disabilities should especially look into estate planning. These special circumstances often bring up certain estate planning decisions that do not need to be considered in other situations.
Call our Estate team at (480)467-4325 to discuss your case today.