PART 3: WHY IS AN ESTATE PLAN IMPORTANT?
ESTATE PLANNING: WHO, WHEN AND WHY?
WHY IS ESTATE PLANNING IMPORTANT?
There are many ways to answer this question. I could answer it as an attorney, or simply as a member of my own family.
As an attorney, I would tell you all about the personal and familial benefits that can be gained by managing your estate in advance.
The reduced costs.
The privacy aspect.
The potential tax savings opportunities.
The possibility of avoiding probate.
I could tell you all about the benefits of managing your children’s assets in trusts, rather than in outright gifts. Or I could spend time talking about the peace of mind of having a plan in place that will care for your own needs should you ever be unable to care for yourself.
As an attorney I could list off the horror stories that all estate planning attorneys can share. The stories of families literally being torn apart after the death of a loved one. Brothers and sisters being split up to live on opposite sides of the country. Family disputes arising from unclear instructions. The stories of loved ones being kept out of important decision making choices. The issues that come with new spouses and ex-spouses, and so it goes.
Or, I could mention the all-too-common stories of assets being wasted or plundered. The stories of estates subjecting themselves to enormous tax liabilities that were completely avoidable. The stories of properties being locked up in red tape for years.
But I think even more important than all of that, is the other side of it. The side of the family member, not the attorney.
There is a remarkable gift in leaving a plan behind. And I’m not even talking about the assets you leave to others, but simply the gift of taking care of your own affairs in advance. There is an enormous gift in leaving behind a plan in place that can look after your loved ones when you are gone.
Estate planning is not an easy topic for many to discuss because of its immediate correlation with death; however, planning for this unavoidable event is a gift you can provide to your loved ones. During the estate planning process you will have the opportunity to make many decisions that would otherwise be very difficult for your loved ones to make as they are grieving or under other stresses. You can make those choices now, with a clear mind, based upon your preferences and alleviate the burden your family would face if they had to guess what your wishes would have been.
By doing this the right way, you aren’t just leaving a set of instructions behind, you are also conveying your wishes, hopes, and values. You are also relieving loved ones from the burden of having to guess what you would have wanted.
An estate plan, depending on your needs, usually consists of a will, a revocable living trust, health and family directives, and powers of attorney. But the details of each are quite important, and the options are almost unlimited. A skilled estate planning attorney will help you navigate all of the personal, financial, familial, taxation, and spiritual concerns that you might want to address.
During the estate planning process you can make certain that the right person will take care of your children; that your property will be distributed according to your wishes; that you reduce tax burdens; and make decisions for your loved ones regarding your death (helping them during a difficult time) and avoid disputes after you are gone. You can also use the plan as an opportunity to leave behind your greater wishes, or remind your loves ones of certain values, or perhaps just provide encouragement. You can also show them, one last time, just what they meant to you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 760-487-8330 or at [email protected]