Many assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy. The word “estate” conjures visions of Downton Abby-like scenery featuring sprawling mansions, rolling hills, and houses full of staff. But the truth is, estate planning is necessary and important for everyone and anyone. It isn’t just about money. Rather it’s about having the power to make your own choices about how you want things handled and how you want to look after the people you love.
While an estate plan will provide invaluable peace of mind, that’s a somewhat vague benefit that can be hard to grasp. There are many other, more concrete benefits, however, that make the importance of having an estate plan crystal clear.
4 Important Reasons to Have an Estate Plan
1. Protect what’s yours.
One of the top reasons people create an estate plan is to protect their assets. Just think about it: a lawsuit or divorce can wreak havoc, and if you don’t have a plan in place, everything you’ve worked so hard to build can crumble right before you.
An estate plan goes a long way toward ensuring that the assets you’ve acquired and built remain available to you and your heirs, both when you’re still alive to enjoy them and after you’re gone. There are different types of trusts you can use to protect and manage specific assets for specific people—like spouses and children—and ensure that your family is cared for no matter what happens.
2. Protect the people you love.
If you’re a parent, you understand that once a parent, always a parent. Even if your kids are adults, you still want to do whatever you can to make their lives better. And if you have children who are still young, an estate plan is even more important to ensure that—if anything were to happen—those minor beneficiaries are not only cared for but cared for in the way you intended.
For instance, minors need a guardian or conservator assigned to oversee their day-to-day needs and overall finances until they come of age. Keep in mind that even adults can sometimes benefit from such guidance and management. A special needs trust is a very effective way to ensure necessary care for an adult child who needs extra support. Or you may choose to set up a trust for an adult heir who simply has a track record of making bad decisions or putting themselves at financial risk.
3. Avoid probate.
No one wants to have to go through probate. Not only is it expensive, but it can be a painful and time-consuming process that often devolves into infighting amongst family members. If a Will is contested, the probate process can go on for what feels like forever. And all the while the court fees will be chewing through the inheritance meant for your heirs.
4. Keep the peace.
As if losing a loved one isn’t traumatic enough, chaos often follows a death in the family if there is no estate plan in place to clearly spell out the wishes of the deceased. Advanced planning who gets what when can nip a lot of fights in the bud, and potentially save relationships that might otherwise have been damaged beyond repair.
A quality estate plan is not just a luxury available for the privileged few; it is a necessary planning tool everyone should have. If you need help preparing or reviewing your estate plan, contact Scarola Law to ensure you have the proper documents in place to protect you and your loved ones now and in the future.