Estate planning is not only for the ultra-rich. Recent polls conducted by AARP, Gallup and Caring, conclude similarly that more than half of all Americans do not have a will and significantly fewer have a comprehensive estate plan. It also appears that in recent years, the number of persons engaging in estate planning has decreased.
When it comes to estate planning, the sooner you start the better. Below are four reasons why everyone – no matter what income or wealth level – can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan:
- Forward Thinking Family Goals: What are your goals? Caring for a minor child, an elderly parent, or a disabled relative? Distributing property to individuals who will most appreciate and best care for these assets? Understanding your family’s wants and needs for the future is a great starting point for any estate plan. If you can sit down and spend time planning your vacation, you can do the same for your estate. Your future self and your loved ones will thank you.
- Financial Confidence Now and Later: The immediate benefit of having a finished estate plan in place is peace of mind that you have better in control of your finances, both now and in an uncertain future. Some people may experience the personal benefit of increased financial control with careful planning. There is also peace of mind in an estate plan that allows you to dictate exactly how and when, or under what conditions, your heirs receive an inheritance. This is particularly important for minors, the disabled or other family members who need additional guidance.
- Identify Risks: An important aspect of a good estate plan is to mitigate current and future risks. One example is becoming disabled and unable to work to support your family or dying early. Another risk is the high cost of long-term care, typically not covered by Medicare or health insurance. Through an estate plan, you can maintain greater control over your personal assets. While contemplating these types of risks is never fun, preparing ahead of time provides assistance and guidance to your loved ones when tragedy occurs.
- To Maintain Your Privacy: When a court needs to step in to allow access to and direct the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are administered, the Court keeps a record of the assets under management in the estate. If real estate is owned in two states, then each state will have a separate Court proceeding. A solid estate plan should generally avoid the need for involvement by the probate court, maintaining your family’s privacy, protect against risks and reduce costs.
The Bottom Line: Seek Professional Advice
There are numerous benefits to working with a professional team when it comes to estate planning. Elder law attorneys, financial advisor, insurance agents, and others have a broader and deeper knowledge of money management, financial implications, and the law. When you work with a qualified team to implement an estate plan you can rest easy knowing your family will be taken care of no matter what happens in the future.