The process of estate planning is ripe for procrastination since so few people understand it or – more commonly — wish to contemplate their own demise. Yet it still remains one of the best things you can do to protect your money, your health, and your family. Here are some good reasons why you need to take action to get estate planning off your “to-do” list:
Consider your children. Estate planning helps you protect your children throughout their lifetimes. When they are young, you need to appoint a guardian if something should happen to you. When they are older, you want to have the financial capacity to send them to college. When you are gone, you want them to enjoy a legacy that includes passing on your values as well as your assets. Only estate planning can do this for you.
Review beneficiary designations. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts and other financial vehicles all require you to complete a beneficiary form to designate who will receive the assets upon your death. With no form, state law will govern, and your assets may go to those you never intended to receive them, or worse, go to your estate and be depleted by attorney’s fees and probate costs. Be sure you have beneficiary forms on file for your accounts and that they are reviewed at least annually for any necessary updates.
Consider your own health. If you become incapacitated, who will be making your health care decisions for you? Do you want your life to be prolonged via life support no matter what? Do you want food and hydration withheld or supplied? Whatever your wishes are for your own health, they won’t necessarily be followed unless you have executed a Living Will or assigned powers of attorney to see to these matters.
Plan for your long-term care. Most of us will require long-term care at some time during our lives, and it can be expensive – even financially devastating for many families. An estate plan will help you take the necessary steps to plan for your long-term care so it doesn’t fall to your family.
Control your finances. By assigning a durable power of attorney in your estate plan, you can save your family from the expense and emotional trauma of having to go to court to take control of your finances via a guardianship in case you become incapacitated. Keep peace in the family. By determining where your assets will go, you will help ensure family harmony and fend off any potential inheritance fights.
You exercised great responsibility in the accumulation of your estate. Now you must again act responsibly in providing for its distribution. Make 2019 the year that you create your estate plan — or, if you have a plan that hasn’t been reviewed in the last two years, the year that you update your estate plan. It’s a gift to yourself that will provide great peace of mind both to you and to your family.
If you need help with estate planning, seek legal representation as soon as possible. Our experienced family law attorneys will work tirelessly to reach a favorable outcome on your behalf. Contact us online or call 317-269-3500 to schedule a consultation regarding your needs.