What is Estate Planning and Why Bother?
Estate planning is more than deciding where your assets should go after you die. It is not just for the elderly or wealthy. Estate planning is a process that involves the “big picture” understanding of your legal, financial, health care, and emotional goals and creating a road map to achieve those goals throughout your lifetime and eventual death. Everyone has their own idea of what is important to them during the estate planning process.
Some common objectives are:
- Maximize assets being transferred to children
- Minimizing taxes and long term care costs
- Providing for lifetime financial security in the event of disability and health care needs
- Providing for family members and protecting those with special situations
- Gaining peace of mind that you and your loved ones have a plan in place
If you don’t create your own checklist of concerns for your estate plan, then someone else will. Default rules will apply regardless of whether they make sense for you and your situation. Without proper estate planning:
- You lose the ability to name a trusted individual to act on your behalf if you become unable to manage your own affairs
- Your estate is everything you own and your assets may not go where you want them to go
- You lose the opportunity to protect assets
- You cannot name your personal representative, trustee, or guardian for your children
Your estate plan does not always need to be complicated, but it should always be based on your decisions and goals.