Why is Estate Planning Important?

You work your entire life filling various roles: child, sibling, friend, student, employee, parent, spouse, and/or any combination of other roles. You accrue personal values, relationships, and assets.  Then you die.  It’s a hard truth, but it’s a fact of life.  Yet many people seem to spend more time thinking about what’s for lunch than deciding what will happen to their family and property when they pass.  Estate planning is important and should not be ignored or postponed.  Some great reasons to develop your estate plan include:

  • Protecting your family. Estate planning includes accounting for the care of your loved ones, no matter their age. Whether through life insurance, guardianship, or your Will or Trust, careful estate planning is the only way to ensure that your loved ones are protected and secure.
  • Knowing (not just hoping) your wishes are followed. A Will can help ensure your property is distributed as you see fit. The default rules that apply without a Will are not designed for your preferences. If you want to set money aside for education, charity, or anything else specific, you can only do so in an estate plan. If you have preferences you want followed concerning your property, you need a proper estate plan.
  • Guardianship for young children. While we often think of death in the context of old age, this is not always the case. Young parents immediately have a deep desire to ensure that their children are protected in the event of the unthinkable. A guardian is more than a legally appointed caregiver; this is the person you entrust to pass on your faith, values, and work ethics in shaping the people your children will become.
  • Preventing Family Feuding. While we all want to believe our family members will not fight over our assets after we die, this is a common problem. Asset disputes can tear families apart, and this is especially true when there is no clear guidance provided by an estate plan.
  • Planning for the Unexpected. Estate planning is important for people of all ages, not just the elderly. Life is full of surprises, some good and some bad. While we can’t control our fate, we can take affirmative steps to plan for the unexpected, so we are better prepared just in case. Think of your estate plan as similar to your car insurance. You hope you don’t have an accident, but if the day comes, you are in deeper trouble if you don’t have it when you need it.
  • Tax Planning. Estate planning is a good opportunity to survey your assets, and when certain conditions are met, an estate plan can help distribute more money to your loved ones and/or favorite organizations and less to the government in the form of estate taxes.

All adults should have an estate plan, regardless of their age and financial position.  An estate plan helps you plan for the unexpected while protecting your family from financial hardship and ensuring your wishes are followed.

Disclaimer - This article is provided for educational purposes only.  Nothing contained herein should be considered "legal advice", and this information should not be relied upon by any reader as such. The information presented herein is not necessarily presented based upon the laws within any specific state, and such laws vary from state to state. The provision of this discussion shall not be deemed to create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and EPM and/or any other third party.  This discussion was not provided as a "legal advertisement" and the readers have no duty or obligation to provide any compensation for the information provided herein.  The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions that should not be based solely upon advertisements, endorsements, or self-proclaimed expertise.