The breakdown of your assets after passing away is not exactly a pleasant thing to plan. In fact, 64% of Americans pass away without a will or any type of estate plan. However, without a plan in place, you put your assets and legacy at risk. Estate planning applies to everyone. It isn’t just for the wealthy, nor is it just for the elderly. No matter your situation, it is wise to have a plan in the case of the unexpected.
An estate plan doesn’t mean you do not trust your family and those closest to you to take care of your legacy, but instead, it makes things easier for them. There will be no confusion or questions when it is time to make arrangements. Here are the most common reasons to set up an estate plan:
- Designates who will manage your affairs if you become disabled or when you pass away. If you fail to do so, the court will decide for you. You never know who the court will appoint.
- Ensures that a specific portion of your estate actually gets to grandchildren, charities, etc. Without planning, the state will decide who inherits your assets. Planning your estate ensures your intentions and directions are followed.
- Protects assets inherited by your heirs from lawsuits, divorces, and other claims. Make sure your assets are inherited by your loved ones, not the people you don’t want to receive them, such as their ex-spouses, in-laws, creditors.
- Protects a portion of your estate if you pass away first, and your surviving spouse remarries. Special Trusts can be set up to protect your current surviving spouse and ensure that your assets don’t end up in the wrong hands.
- Addresses different needs of different children. No two children are alike. Customized estate planning can assure that each child’s personal needs are addressed in the manner you deem best.
- Prevents or discourages challenges to your estate plan. Establishing a Revocable Living Trust now makes it more difficult for objections when you are no longer around to speak for yourself.
- Assures an education for children, or grandchildren, despite what they (or their parents) dream of doing with the inheritance. Establishing an Educational Trust can ensure that your children and/or grandchildren use their inheritance for education and not on something other than what you intended.
Each and every estate plan is different, and there is not a one-size-fits-all template. Getting help from a professional is not only helpful, it’s necessary to ensure you understand the process and the future of your estate.
If you’re interested in learning more about estate planning, O’Brien & Wolf, L.L.P. offers free seminars to educate on different options. Hosted by Raymond L. Hansen, Attorney at O’Brien Wolf, L.L.P, attendees will leave with a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of Wills, Living Trusts, and Probate.
Ray leads these discussions with a passion for assisting families with their estates, has many years of experience, and was recently admitted to the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. His presentations are not only extremely informative, but also entertaining (not to mention, they include free parking and snacks!).
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Estate planning is necessary and if not done correctly (or at all), can be a large burden for your family. Protect yourself, your legacy, and your family by creating an estate plan sooner than later.