Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, it’s for anyone who wants to save their family an emotional and legal hassle when they pass and ensure that their intentions are carried out.
Have you ever heard of the term “estate planning” before? Maybe you have, perhaps you haven’t, but did you know this isn’t something reserved just for the ultra-wealthy? Estate planning is for everyone and anyone who has some items they want passed on and perhaps some wishes they want honored, and that’s it. It’s just a fancy label for planning; making plans how to distribute your possessions to your loved ones. You don’t have to be a billionaire, a millionaire, or even consider yourself wealthy to plan your estate.
You and your family have worked hard for the things you have, but you may think you don’t have the types of assets that would need extensive estate planning to pass down in the event of your death. However, this article will reveal some of the details included in estate planning and why writing a simple will may not guarantee what you assume now.
The Basics of Estate Planning 101
First, everyone has an estate; your estate is essentially assets you own. But, don’t think only of items like antiques, family heirlooms, and even a collection (records, coins, or stamps), but also intellectual property, bank accounts, a business, real property like a home. You may even consider burial plans you wish respected.You may want certain loved ones to have the right to, or ownership of, these important properties after you pass.
So, why make a plan for your “estate” anyway?
Avoiding probate is the most simple and straightforward reason why estate planning is for everyone, and not just top earners with multiple real estate, art collections, etc. You really don’t have to be part of the 1% to want to avoid putting your heirs through the nuisance (and expense) of probate.
What is “probate”? Probate is the legal process (subject to court oversight) to transfer possessions and assets to loved ones after someone passes away. It can often be filled with confusion, especially if the deceased didn’t seek professional help when creating their will. Your wishes and will could even conflict with existing laws in your state.
By planning your estate properly and strategically allocating your possessions, your loved ones avoid major mayhem after you’re gone.
Picture your family around a table arguing over what exactly you had said you wanted for your burial. Son remembers “clear as day” that you were against cremation. At the same time, daughter explains you wanted a gravesite near your parents’ burial plots.
Who will get the final word? Who will decide what happens to your remains at such an emotional and sensitive time? The one person you may have told might be too distraught to remember. Or, they may be absent or gone for any number of reasons. If you choose to have your estate planned, you can describe the specifications for your burial in as little or as much detail as you like.
Shepherding Your Family, Even After You’re Gone
That may seem like a melancholy way to think about things. Still, many get satisfaction knowing that, even after death, they’ll continue to influence how the properties they worked hard for are dispersed (who gets them, and maybe even under intentional and specific conditions).
Everyone’s families are filled with quirky and complex relationships and dynamics, and all of that doesn’t change once you’ve passed. For instance, let’s say you have an adult child with a history of substance abuse issues. You may wish to make sure that the particular heir has improved his/her/their state of well-being (both physically and mentally) before getting access to what you may have allotted for them within your estate plans.
This could look like setting specific stipulations; for instance, the loved one in question must regularly attend Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and have completed all 12 steps of the program (with a sponsor) before gaining access to what you’ve left them.
You may also choose to include an additional clause stating the heir is not to have violated the law or received a DUI for at minimum one full year after completing the NA program.
Lastly, this also sends your loved one (heir) a final loving nudge (from the grave) and lets them know that even though you aren’t around anymore, you still wish for them to clean up their lives and find their true purpose.
Protecting Your Legacy or Honoring Your Business
Suppose you are an entrepreneur, a business owner, and you don’t designate what will happen to that business after you die. In that case, your business (the one you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into) could quickly fall to pieces or be the cause of family and partner disputes.
Fortunately, your situation doesn’t have to end up that way. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, it’s for anyone who wants to save their family an emotional and legal hassle when they pass and ensure that their intentions are carried out.
By contacting a trusted and well-versed attorney experienced in estate planning, you can learn about all your options like setting up a will or trust, discover what property may be subject to probate, discuss supplementary aspects of your estate that you must address.
It may all seem like a lot right now- but the time you spend planning your estate today will positively reflect in your family’s future. An attorney can assist you in navigating the process ensuring that things are done property. If you need help, contact Lee, Kiefer & Park, LLC, for a free consultation by calling 702-333-1711.