Estate Plan Basics
I probably should have titled this post – I don’t need an estate plan…do I? Some of my clients come to me with ideas for what they term a “simple will”. Going through that scenario they find that the will leaves more questions unanswered than answered.
In its simplest form a will can be a list of “who gets what” and that approach is OK…as far as it goes. But a will is for the after life. If anyone has plans for their estate, during their lifetime, then having an estate plan can offer much more peace of mind and address those questions of” “What If…?”
Having an estate plan is for many a critical element of future financial planning. Just a few of the reasons for establishing an estate plan are:
Avoiding Probate – Probate is a very public, lengthy and expensive process for those with any assets, and in a very general sense…the more assets, the lengthier the process
Securing and protecting the welfare of a special needs dependent
Maintaining control of assets during one’s lifetime – estate planning is not only planning for death, but rather for appropriate financial decisions during a lifetime
Asset protection – a good estate plan considers long term implications of financial decisions
Avoiding family disagreements – Discussing an estate plan can often go a long way in explaining why certain decisions are being made with respect to inheritance issues
Simplifying business succession– if there is a small or family-owned business involved, an estate plan can help avoid costly mistakes when planning for the future of that business
Managing taxes – there are mechanisms that can be put into place to maximize what heirs receive
Allocating for the future needs of ‘blended’ families – this is particularly true when there are children from previous marriages
Offering a smooth transition in the event of incapacity or death – an estate plan can provide for situations when a person is incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently
Securing the future for beneficiaries who are minor children – an estate plan is imperative to protect the interests of minor children and issues such as guardianship
The above are the top ranking reasons for considering an estate plan, but there are others.
Ultimately a well- structured estate plan offers peace of mind.
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