Many people believe that estate planning is only for people who are particularly wealthy, have elaborate plans in mind for passing their money to their heirs, or for people who are acutely ill and contemplating their death. This could not be farther from the truth!
Estate planning is for every husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, business owner, professional, or anyone else who has someone they care about, are concerned about providing responsibly for their own well being and for the well being of those they love, and for anyone who seeks to make a difference in the lives of others after they’re gone. Estate planning is not ‘death planning’; it’s ‘life planning’, and an essential and rewarding process for individuals and families who engage in it.
When done properly, estate planning requires that a highly trained individual lead you through one or more in-depth meetings to uncover your hopes, fears, and expectations for yourself and for those who are most important to you. This process almost always requires the preparation of several sophisticated legal documents, but those documents themselves are not ‘estate planning.’ Planning is a process, represented by a complete strategy that is properly documented and maintained by a professional who has taken the time to get to know you, and who is committed to continuing to serve you.
- An effective, foundational estate plan can provide many benefits to you and your family such as:
- Distributing your assets to your beneficiaries in the exact manner and timing you see fit
- Ensuring your minor children are well cared for if something should happen to you
- Avoiding unnecessary delay and expense in probate
- Minimizing the impact of estate and income taxes
- Promoting certainty and reducing stress among your children and loved ones
- Protecting your assets from unexpected losses due to wasteful spending, divorce, failed marriages, bankruptcy, frivolous lawsuits and predatory creditors
- Limiting the possibility of costly estate litigation
- Giving your loved ones clarity and guidance in the event you are sick or incapacitated
- Giving you the peace of mind from having a holistic estate plan in place to protect you and your loved ones
- Preserving family harmony and avoiding conflict
Everybody wants an estate plan that is simple, effective and affordable. But simply downloading a form and filling in the blanks can be a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach. In order to receive the full benefits of a foundational plan, it is critical to work with a knowledgeable lawyer who is up-to-date on modern estate planning principles and possesses a complete understanding of your and your family’s needs.