The Importance of Estate Planning

estate_planning_coupleNo matter how young you are or how small your estate plan is, as it allows you to ensure your assets go to the people, pets, and/or charities you love. If you do not plan your estate properly, assets may not end up where you want them or reflect your true desire. Also, they could go to people at times in their life when it would not be appropriate for them to receive money (ie: too young, receiving government benefits, etc).

By properly planning your estate you can help minimize family conflict and costly court proceedings. Proper estate planning also takes care of issues such as disability by appointing agents to make health care decisions for you and agents to handle your financial affairs in the event of incapacity.
What is an estate?

Your estate is everything you own in your name at the time of your death, such as

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Household furniture, jewelry, personal effects
  • Toys such as cars, RV’s, Boats, Planes, etc.

Estate Planning Can Help

Regardless of your age, and size or your estate, an estate plan should accomplish the following:

  • Identify your family members and other individuals/pets/organizations whom you wish to receive your assets after your death
  • Identify those individuals, if any, whom you do not wish assets to be distributed to
  • Ensure that your assets are distributed to those you have specified, as quickly and as cost efficiently as possible
  • Minimize the amount of taxes (estate, income, property) that may need to be paid in order to transfer property to your loved ones
  • Avoid the time and cost associated with probate by utilizing living trusts, Non-Probate Transfers and “pay on death” bank accounts, where appropriate
  • Make clear the kind of life-prolonging medical care you wish, and designate who should be the person to communicate this to your treating physician
  • Designate who you want to take care of your children if you are no longer able to
  • Outline your wishes regarding funeral arrangements and burial or cremation