New Year, New (or Updated!) Estate Plan

2019 is here and it’s the year to finally tackle creating your estate plan so your family, loved ones, and legacy are protected after you pass. Is this something you have been putting off? Are you wondering why you need an estate plan? Are you sure your existing plan includes all of life’s changes? Here are some of the reasons why it is so important to get started now.

Estate Plans Are For Everyone

Estate plans are not just for wealthy people. Your estate plan includes everything you own from bigger assets like a home or bank accounts, or life insurance, all the way down to smaller assets like jewelry or a car. Have you ever heard of children fighting over who gets what when a parent passes on? An estate plan would prevent that. If any of your assets have changed since you created your trust, they are at risk for creating problems.

Protects Your Loved Ones from Lawsuits and Divorce

Older trusts provide for outright distributions at death, but a good trust will take into account the highly specific dangers faced by your circumstances—both during your life, and when you’ve passed that asset on to your heirs. This way you are protected from creditors, predators, and major relationship shifts like divorce.

Helps You While You Are Alive and Protects You In the Event You Are Incapacitated

If you are incapacitated with an illness – even if you are just under sedation for an hour-long operation – who do you trust to have your best interests at heart and make the right calls? Having a power of attorney, a long-term healthcare plan, and medical directives help eliminate uncertainty and enables your loved ones to provide you with  help in your time of need. A living trust is a living document which has binding legal effects from the moment it is signed. It lives with you and helps you and your family throughout your lifetime. Then, it continues to protect your estate and your loved ones after you die. The alternative is going through a conservatorship in which a judge in court makes decisions for you.

Without One, Your Assets May Go Into Probate

If you don’t have a trust, a probate court gets involved to distribute your assets for you. Just to get to the milestone of standing in front of a probate judge to hear the ruling will take weeks, months, or sometimes years. And the bitterness resulting from a battle among your heirs may last the rest of their lives. In the end, the legal costs may well consume their entire inheritance—it happens often. And since it’s a public process, your assets and estate transactions become public record, something most people would prefer to avoid.

If You Are the Parent of A Minor, You Need to Appoint Guardians

How do guardians get put into place? If you die suddenly, and your children under eighteen have no surviving parent (divorced or otherwise), social services may claim responsibility for them. The relevant agency will then start sorting through the rest of your family. Every parent with a child under the age of eighteen should create proper documents nominating guardians for minor children.

It Helps You Align, Verify, and Track Your Assets So They Are In Keeping With Your Wishes

All of your appropriate assets should be noted and placed inside your trust. This is a laborious process involving communication with many institutions, but it is a critical component of ensuring you are properly taking care of your family. You wouldn’t want an ex-spouse getting your retirement assets because you didn’t get around to changing your beneficiary designation forms.

It Can (and Should) Be Changed Or Updated 

Life changes and so will your estate plan. It’s a good idea to review your estate plan at least every five years to make sure your loved ones are protected. This is particularly important if you’ve experienced any life-changing events, such as marriage, an addition to your family, or a divorce, that would affect your distribution of assets.

It Takes Care of Your Loved Ones When It Matters Most

Having an estate plan ensures that your loved ones will be cared for no matter what happens.

We know creating an estate plan can be daunting and obviously there are many more details that factor in. That is why you need someone experienced and knowledgeable on your side, one who is focused on helping you do what is best for your family. To learn more, sign up for one of our FREE seminars.