You are probably familiar with the idea and benefits of traditional estate planning: eliminating probate complications and costs, lowering tax liabilities, and providing financial peace of mind and security for your loved ones. If you do not currently have an estate plan, you should consider getting one as soon as possible.
But while many are aware of traditional estate planning techniques, they may not be familiar with the more short-term planning approach—often referred to as “micro” estate planning. As the New Year approaches, now is a great time to sit down and put your short-term wishes in a legal document.
“Micro” Estate Planning Explained
Simply put, traditional estate planning focuses on the big-picture—putting together and planning for long-term goals. “Micro” estate planning, on the other hand, looks to short-term needs and how to address them—such as an expected absence, property needs during an illness, or even temporary care of children or pets. Accordingly, “micro” estate plans are simpler and more flexible than traditional estate plans and can be updated more frequently to meet your needs at the moment. A copy of your “micro” estate plan can be stored along with your other traditional estate planning documents and can also be kept in a visible and accessible place in your home.
One major benefit of “micro” estate planning is that it can fill in any gap and meet any need that your traditional estate plan cannot address. For example, who will take care of your minor children or pets in the immediate days or hours after your passing or incapacity before legal guardianship is transferred and established by a court? This is particularly important because without a legal document instructing what should happen and/or whom should be contacted in the event of your death or incapacity, there may be family turmoil and, worst case, law enforcement could be required to contact child protective services. This is also an important issue for pet owners because your pet may need immediate care and you do not want your beloved pet to end up at a local animal shelter. Planning for a minor child or pet to stay with a trusted neighbor or other person while the guardian is contacted can be the best way to protect your loved ones immediately.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
As with traditional estate plans, “micro” estate planning can help you plan ahead for the “what if” situations that may arise during your lifetime. While most of us recognize death as a certainty of life, there is also a substantial likelihood that a person may have one or more periods of absence or incapacity for which proactive planning is appropriate and desirable. Make sure to take this opportunity to create or update your estate plan and speak with an experienced estate planning attorney today to learn about your options under applicable law. We are here to answer any questions you may have and to help you plan for any circumstance that may arise.