If you are like most folks, you don’t LIKE the idea of talking about estate planning. It’s much more comfortable to assume that you, and those you love, will never die, or become incapacitated. However, estate planning is actually a vital topic for EVERY family.
I think of estate planning like I do about much of my financial planning work. It’s about coping with the Certainty of Uncertainty. We don’t know how long we will live. We don’t know how healthy we will be. We don’t know a lot. But we CAN prepare so that IF things don’t go great, the downside is reduced.
Estate plans are a great tool to provide critical tools to deal with REALLY bad situations. So, I always urge every client to get a thorough estate plan and to keep it up to date. With that in mind, here are some reasons to visit with an estate planner about your situation.
If you don’t know a GREAT estate planner, I know a couple. Follow this LINK and I’m happy to provide an e-mail introduction for you.
Here are 10 reasons to talk with an Estate Planner.
- Asset preservation: Estate planning provides the necessary framework to preserve your assets against possible financial risks. For example, estate planning may safeguard your assets from creditors or lawsuits, ensuring your hard-earned wealth isn't depleted unexpectedly.
- Help avoid probate: One of the significant reasons people have an estate plan is its potential to bypass the often costly and time-consuming legal process known as probate. An estate plan may help ensure assets are distributed directly to your heirs rather than going toward legal fees and court costs. Consult your financial and legal professionals regarding Probate laws in your state and how they may impact your estate.
- Manage estate taxes: Using estate planning strategies, such as setting up trust funds or gifting assets, can help mitigate any estate taxes that heirs may have to pay on the property they inherit. Each state has laws regarding taxes on inherited assets (usually contingent on where the deceased lived, where the heirs live, and where the assets are domiciled). Tax professionals can help you understand how these laws may apply to you and your heirs.
- Simplified distribution of assets: With an estate plan, you can dictate precisely who gets what, when, and how. Without an estate plan, state laws may determine how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes.
- Avoid family conflicts: Estate planning can help prevent potential disputes concerning asset division among family members, ensuring a smooth transition of property and wealth to heirs. And, if you make a point to have a family meeting to share and explain your estate plan, you can often make things even smoother for the heirs.
- Manage assets during incapacitation: In the unfortunate event of a sudden illness or incapacitation, an estate plan can help ensure financial and health matters are handled according to your wishes. An estate plan generally includes appointing a power of attorney (POA) authorized to make your financial decisions and another to make your healthcare decisions in the event you can’t do it yourself. Your legal professional may recommend other vital documents about your care as part of the estate plan.
- Charitable contributions: If you wish to leave some of your wealth to a charity, estate planning can help you work toward your philanthropic goals. By setting up charitable trusts, for instance, you can contribute to the causes close to your heart in a tax-efficient manner.
- Provide for your young children: Any heirs who are younger than 18 cannot legally inherit assets without a legal guardian to make decisions. Your estate plan may appoint guardians for a minor’s care, financial support, healthcare, and education.
- Establish trustees: Estate planning allows you to establish trustees who can ensure the estate terms are executed per your instructions. Naming a trustee may provide additional protection for preserving and controlling your assets.
- Financial independence: A significant benefit of estate planning is the financial independence it provides: knowing your financial affairs are in order, your loved ones are protected, and your wishes are outlined.
After all this, you might have questions. If you would like to talk with an experienced, highly-trained, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Behavioral Financial Advisor to help better understand your options. I love to meet new people. So, follow this LINK to find a time for us to have a get-acquainted visit.
I am a financial planner who is an advocate for my clients ALL THE TIME – a fiduciary financial planner. I provide guidance based on clients’ best interests, not commissions or sales quotas. I think it’s the best way to serve clients and I am thrilled to work this way all the time.
And yes, I’m still taking on a few great families to be part of my financial planning practice.
Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.