Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. People of all ages and all income brackets should have an estate plan. Unfortunately, less than 50% of adults in the US have created a will or set up a trust. We're here to change that. We've compiled the top ten reasons why YOU should have an estate plan created now.
With a countdown to #1, the most important:
#10. To reduce or eliminate paying unnecessary taxes
While tax issues or concerns can arise in estate planning, it seems that sometimes plans erroneously focus primarily on taxes before anything else. The reality is very few of the American public are actually going to fall into a federal estate tax issue. Therefore, we mustn't use taxes as our driver in estate planning. It's definitely something we pay attention to along the way, but planning for the person is more important than planning for the potential taxes.
#9. To avoid accidental disinheritance of loved ones
Every time you're purchasing an asset or setting up life insurance, estate planning is happening. It's essential to understand how you own your assets and how your beneficiary designations can make the difference between your loved ones inheriting your assets or your assets going to someone completely unintended. A will isn't going to cover all the contingencies, such as second marriages and joint-tenancy laws. It's best to cover all your bases with a comprehensive estate plan and ensure your beneficiary designations are always kept up-to-date.
#8. To avoid guardianship and probate court
If you become disabled with no decision maker in place, your assets are going to fall into guardianship court, and someone not of your choosing will be appointed to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf. If you pass away without beneficiary designations on your assets, your estate will end up in probate court. Wouldn't you rather have control over who makes decisions for you and where your assets go? On top of that, the courts are costly and take a long time. It can take anywhere from six months to a year (and sometimes much longer) and cost around $8-15k on average for an estate worth more than $200k. The good news is you can avoid all that by having a funded trust and proper beneficiary and Power of Attorney designations.
#7. To avoid opening a forum for litigation
There might be decisions you make on how your assets are handled that family members have an issue with. Having an estate plan prevents those people from changing your choices to their benefit. However, if your assets go through probate or guardianship court, it opens the door for those people to file nuisance filings. Don't create a forum for unwanted people to try to get to your assets.
#6. To reduce attorney's fees and costs
There will be fees and costs, but how much you pay depends on how well you plan. Piecemealing, doing it on the cheap, or otherwise DIY-ing your estate plan can actually cost you may more than just properly planning in the first place and maintaining it. If anything is done incorrectly, not done at all, or not maintained, your estate will go through the courts, which will cost a considerable amount of money. And then there's the chance of accidental disinheritance. On top of the value loss of your loved one's inheritance, I don't think you can put a price tag on the emotional damage that can cause.
#5. To give what you have to whom you want, when you want, the way you want
During estate planning, you can be very intentional about the inheritance you leave. You can time when your heirs will either receive the assets or receive control of the assets. Minor children can be taken into consideration and well planned for so that they receive their inheritance at a certain age. Bloodlines can be protected; for example, if you leave your assets to your married adult child and that child passes away. Without proper planning, the inheritance you passed to them can then be transferred to their spouse, who can remarry and have children and essentially move your assets to their new family. With intentional planning, you can ensure that your assets go down to your grandchild or another family member, therefore preserving your assets within your own family.
#4. To protect your children and assets from their creditors and future divorcing spouses
When planning your estate, you can absolutely plan around issues such as what happens to your inheritance if your child divorces or goes through financial issues. You want to make sure your children aren't receiving their inheritance only to have it taken away under unfortunate circumstances they might go through in the future.
#3. To be prepared to take care of yourself and your family in the event of your disability or death
It's crucial that you be proactive and choose trusted family, friends, or professionals to take care of you during a disability and take care of your estate in the event of your passing. Without these people in place, the state will need to step in and make choices for your healthcare, finances, and estate. With an estate plan, you ensure the right people are in the right jobs, the tools (a trust, Power of Attorney, etc.) are set up, all the different parts of the puzzle are working together, and it's maintained over time so that it always follows your wishes.
#2. To be loving, caring, and respectful of the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being of yourself and others
Our financial well-being can directly influence our mental and physical capacity. By not doing your estate plan, you're actually exacerbating any anxiety you might already have regarding your finances. On the other hand, doing your estate plan will give you peace of mind, knowing that you and your family are taken care of. It will also help lessen the stress and angst of your loved ones. Without an estate plan in place, in the event of your disability or passing, they'll have to endure the unnecessary strain, cost, and conflict of going through the court system. However, with a solid estate plan, they can walk the path that you set up for them. This ensures they will go through the transition of your disability or passing with the greatest possible ease.
#1. To exercise good stewardship with your loved ones, your resources, and your community in creating an overall Legacy Plan that works
We like to say that your estate plan is the ultimate love letter to your loved ones. It passes along your story and wishes and directly impacts their emotional and financial well-being, possibly for generations to come. Everyone should take the time to create a sound estate plan that takes into account the proper stewardship of their resources and how they can pass along their legacy to their friends, family, and community.
What you must understand is that an estate plan is not a one-and-done thing. It's a living document that must be properly funded and maintained in order to work the way it was designed. At Sundvick Legacy Center, we call our planning process the Total Legacy Care Process. It's a thorough, step-by-step walk together to collaborate in creating a comprehensive and dynamic plan tailored specifically for you and your family. We support this process with our Total Legacy Care Plan. This is our exclusive peace-of-mind solution for our clients, where we meet with them annually to ensure their plan is continually on course to protect, preserve, and pass on their wealth by design. If you do not already have an estate plan or need your existing one updated, call or email us today to schedule a consultation.
Want to learn more? Click here to see our Total Legacy Care Process laid out in detail.