It’s true—planning a summer vacation is far more fun that facing your own mortality and deciding who gets Aunt Susan’s soup tureen. However, families who are left to clean up the mess, when a loved one doesn’t put an estate plan into place, including a will, power of attorney and healthcare directive documents, are the first to tell you, they’d rather you go on vacation after you prepare your estate plan.
Investopedia’s recent article, “4 Reasons Estate Planning Is So Important,” reminds us that estate planning isn't only for the rich. To show you that estate planning is necessary, look at these four reasons why you should have an estate plan to avoid potentially devastating consequences for your loved ones.
Keeps Your Wealth From Going To Unintended Beneficiaries. Estate planning helps middle-class families plan, in the event something happens to a family's breadwinner(s). If you don’t decide who receives your assets when you pass away, you won’t have any control as to who gets what. Without an estate plan, a probate court will decide who gets your assets, based on state intestacy law. This may not be what you would have wanted. A will can avoid this result.
Families with Young Children are Protected. If you're the parent of minor children, you need to name a guardian to be certain your children are taken care of the way you’d want. Without this fundamental provision in your will, the probate courts will make this decision. Even with that provision, a court will have to issue an order officially appointing your nominated guardian, but in the vast majority of cases, California courts will appoint the person or persons you nominate.
No Huge Taxes for Your Heirs. Estate planning serves to protect your family from unnecessary estate and income taxes. You want to minimize or eliminate all of their federal and state estate taxes or state inheritance taxes (though there are currently no California estate or inheritance taxes), as well as the income that tax beneficiaries might have to pay. Without a plan, these taxes can be significant.
Avoids Headaches and Messes for Your Loved Ones After You're Gone. Family fighting after a loved one dies is not uncommon, and it's another reason why an estate plan is needed. An estate plan will let you say who controls your finances and assets, if you become mentally incapacitated or after you die. It will also go a long way towards settling or preventing any family conflict and ensuring that your assets are handled in the way you wanted them to be.
Think of an estate plan as a gift you leave, your final message, to those you love from the grave. It’s your way of telling them you cared enough to address the really tough stuff. Contact an estate planning attorney and make your appointment without delay.
Reference: Investopedia (May 25, 2018) “4 Reasons Estate Planning Is So Important”