Estate planning is something that is somewhat daunting to think about, especially when you haven’t the slightest idea of where to start, what the right questions are to ask, and who to trust to handle this for you. Estate planning involves having your goals properly set, identifying your financial resources, and implementing your estate planning needs in the proper way. The topic of estate planning however does not need to be a stressor in one’s life, and should be implemented to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after your passing.
The question that is often posed initially is “Do I need a large estate to have an estate plan?” This is absolutely not true. Whether you plan for reducing your taxes after your passing, properly designating your beneficiaries on certain accounts, providing your family with essential assets to live, or how your property will be distributed, planning is critical.
Naturally, the question that is asked after is “Well, what if I die without any plan?” By leaving your estate without proper preparation for your heirs in a form of a will or trust, you are leaving your heirs without any peace of mind about how your assets will ultimately be distributed. By not having a plan in place, you will not be assured that your family and loved ones will be protected and provided for in the event of your passing. By using life insurance, life insurance trusts, wills, along with other critical tools, will put you and your family in a much more advantageous position regarding your finances and assets. Furthermore, I am certain that the probate process is much more difficult than structuring an estate plan how you see fit. Probate is essentially identifying the deceased assets, appraising it, paying possible estate taxes, and finally the distribution of the property as the will directs, through the court system. This process may take up to two years, because the estate was not properly structured.
Once your estate plan is in place, it is important to review your estate plan often, especially when an event occurs such as a birth, death, marriage, or divorce in the family. As every situation is different, it is important to speak with a professional to provide you with advice that applies to your unique circumstances.