Estate planning is a legal measure that ensures your assets end up where you want them. It divides any property, money, or other assets in ways that ensure the heirs you wish to get your assets are given what you want them to have. With an estate plan, there is no risk of the brother you haven’t spoken to in 20 years getting everything over a neighbor, who was like your brother.
What’s In an Estate Plan?
Estate Planning includes several legal forms. There’s the will that tells people what your assets are and who gets them. You may want to have a trust set up, which sets up a third party to manage your assets until it’s time to disburse them to the people named in your will. You may need to re-register any assets that you place in a trust.
You should have medical and financial powers of attorney to designate who you want to act on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself. You should also have a living will or advance directive to provide pertinent information on what you want to happen if there is no reasonable hope for recovery following a stroke, accident, or other severe illness.
Mistakes People Often Make
If you keep up with celebrity news at all, you may have read stories where celebrities didn’t even have a will in place before their death. Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Prince are examples.
When Prince died unexpectedly, he had no children. He had siblings and half-siblings, and it was up to the courts to choose an executor and who got the money. Plus, the IRS came into the picture to determine how much they felt the estate was really worth. It was a big mess.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is avoiding an estate plan because they don’t have many assets. If you have children or close family, estate planning is important.
Even if you don’t, an estate plan can protect you from undergoing medical interventions that you wouldn’t want to happen. Suppose you have ALS or Parkinson’s and are in the final stages and no longer able to swallow. You might not want to be put on a feeding tube to sustain your life at that point.
The biggest mistake people make with estate planning is to avoid hiring an attorney who specializes in elder law. DIY legal forms are not always accepted or as legally binding as you might think. Estate planning is complex and an attorney with expertise in estate plans is essential.
Schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney to discuss your family’s estate. There are no guarantees in life, so the sooner you take the step, the easier it is on your family if anything happens. You don’t want probate hearings to tie up your family’s assets while courts decide what happens. Talk to an elder law attorney to protect your assets and avoid any complications down the road.