When it comes to estate planning, there are so many misconceptions. For one, making an estate plan isn’t only for the wealthy. After all, no matter how many assets you have, nobody really wants the court to decide which family member or “friend” will receive them in the event that you pass.
Another common misconception is that estate planning is only for the elderly. But truth be told, many of us, to some degree, feel invincible. We never plan for our last day, and we never plan for the last day of any of our loved ones, even if we see it coming due to medical circumstances or age.
With that said, if you have ever dealt with the loss of a loved one, you understand the true weight of grief. While working through those heavy feelings and establishing a “new normal”, there often comes many other imminent responsibilities. Planning for a funeral, closing credit cards, and planning a return to the workplace are only the beginning.
The purpose of estate planning is to give your family and friends one less hoop to jump through. Grief alone carries a heavy enough weight, and an estate plan helps ensure that your loved ones can work through those feelings to remember your legacy without dealing with the trouble of working through your state’s court system.
Still curious about the purpose of making an estate? Read on to learn more. Or, if you have immediate questions about where to begin with your estate plan, contact our team at The Law Offices of Glenn & West to schedule a consultation.
The Top 5 Reasons to Make an Estate Plan
1. Make Your Wishes Known
One of the main reasons for making an estate plan is to make your wishes known. It ensures your wishes are carried out in both the events of disability and death. Not only does an estate allow you to control the fortune of your assets and how they will be divided, but it also honors your choice in the event that you must assign power of attorney. We know very well that you know better to make these decisions than your state’s court.
2. Save Time and Money for Your Loved Ones
Those who pass away without a will are said to have “died intestate.” As we have touched on, the state’s intestate laws decide what will happen to your assets in this event. Usually, when an individual dies without a will, the probate process ends up being both time-consuming and costly for surviving family members. It’s the last thing you want them to deal with while they are still processing grief and learning a new normal.
3. Protect Your Children & Grandchildren
As a parent, it isn’t easy to imagine dying and leaving your child behind. However, the truth is that it does happen. It’s a heartbreaking reality that children in the United States deal with the loss of a parent at a very young age. Heart disease and stroke are two of the most common causes of premature death.
In your will, you can name a guardian for your child if you pass before your child reaches the age of 18. You can also make plans for distributing college funds. Truly, no parent wants to leave these decisions to the court. With that said, you have a spouse or partner, it’s equally important that they create a will of their own, too.
4. Eliminate Family Messes
Greed can bring out the worst in people. In the event of death or disability, it’s a shame that greed sometimes results in families breaking up. For instance, after a parent becomes disabled, one sibling might feel that they should control their parent’s finances. Or, after a parent dies, one sibling might feel they deserve more than the other. Such arguments can quickly escalate with some siblings taking one another to court. Estate planning allows you to set guidelines that few can contest.
5. Protect Your Loved Ones from Big Taxes
Estate planning provides a chance to protect your loved ones from the Internal Revenue Service. With an estate plan, you can ensure that your heirs do not face a high tax burden. Estate planning provides ways to ensure that your assets pass down to your heirs without the government taking a big slice of your assets first.
Your Estate Planning Checklist
Now that you know the purpose of estate planning, it’s time to start planning! Here is a checklist with the most common planning documents to help you on your journey:
- Your will. The bare bones of this document determines who will manage your estate when you die and how your assets will be distributed.
- Power of attorney (POA) grants another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
- A living will communicates your wishes for medical care should a time come when you cannot communicate those wishes.
- A trust is an estate planning tool that protects your assets.
Note: This list is by no means all-inclusive. Rather, let it serve as a guideline for preparing yourself with answers before a consultation with an attorney and/or financial advisor.
Have Questions? We Have Answers
Now that you know the purpose of an estate plan, you’re probably wondering where to begin. A consultation with an experienced attorney is an excellent place to start. For residents of Central Illinois, our firm offers two office locations in both Nokomis, IL, and Litchfield, IL.
To begin your estate planning journey, contact our team today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.