Many of our blogs discuss why you need an estate plan and most people will tell you that they intend to create one …. eventually. In fact, it is common for people to believe they don’t need an estate plan until later in life. Below is a short quiz that will help you determine whether you should be estate planning now instead of later.
1. Are you a homeowner?
If you own any type of real property, you have at least one valuable assets that requires estate planning. Your home cannot be divided among your beneficiaries and selling it may take months, which means your loved ones will have to wait to receive their share of the proceeds. Even if you have a “small estate,” because it is real estate, probate becomes necessary. For larger estates, there could be estate tax issues. Lastly, if you are married, you will want to ensure that your spouse can continue living in the home after you are gone.
2. Do you have minor children?
If you have any children under the age of 18 years, it is extremely important that you appoint a guardian if something should happen to you and your spouse. Completing the proper documentation will ensure that your children are not placed into foster care or become wards of the state if there are loved ones willing to care for them. You should also consider appointing a trustee for them to hold any financial assets until they reach a suitable age.
3. Do you want to decide when your heirs will receive their inheritance?
If you do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, your property will most likely go through several processes. Insurance, IRA’s, 401(k)’s or similar assets may be distributed by beneficiary designations. Other assets may go through the probate process before they can be distributed. Probate can be complicated and expensive if you have not planned for it. But worse, you may have assets going in several different directions in an uncoordinated way, without any control by you. With an estate plan, you have the ability to coordinate where everything goes, and you decide the timing and circumstances under which your heirs will receive their inheritance. For example, you may want your children to graduate from college or reach the age of 25 years (or older) before their inheritance is distributed to them.
4. Do you want to leave medical or end-of-life instructions?
If you are adamant that you do not want to be kept alive by machines or have your estate diminished by this type of end-of-life care, you need to have an advanced healthcare directive that sets forth your instructions if you are in a vegetative state, have a terminal illness or are dying.
The above four questions are simple examples of why estate planning is necessary for everyone, regardless of the size of their estate. Estate planning impacts a variety of areas in your life, so it is important to stop procrastinating and take action now. Let us help you determine what kind of planning will benefit you and your loved ones.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.