What Is An Estate Plan?
Estate planning is one of those tasks that we know we need to do, but just seem to put it off for another day. And why not??? We have plenty of time ahead, no worries or cares. Besides, we have more important things to tend to, right?
Well, hopefully you answered this question with the one-word response… “wrong!” We never know what lies ahead – what tomorrow will bring. There is no way to assure ourselves that the need for an estate plan is far off and not immediately important.
So, what is estate planning anyway?
Estate planning is the careful process of arranging for and anticipating that one day there will come the need to distribute your assets and plan for your inability to make critical decisions in the way that YOU wish. Without an estate plan, you leave it to the courts to decide who takes care of you, where your property goes after your death, and who will take care of your children!
Additionally, estate planning will document a well thought out plan that minimizes tax burdens, transfers property, reduces or eliminates the need for probate and eases the burden on your loved ones.
Estate planning includes planning for incapacity – both short and long term, planning for the care of your children, documenting your final wishes for burial or the giving of an anatomical gift. It can even plan for the ongoing care of your beloved pet!
Estate plans can be very simple or quite complex. This depends largely on what you own and how you wish for it to be distributed at your death. True, contemplating our final wishes and the fact that the inevitable will come for all of us is hard. It is a tough conversation to have. But having that conversation now and working with a skilled attorney to be sure it is properly documented is truly a gift that you can give to your loved ones.
The passing of a loved one that died without an estate plan can be an extremely stressful situation for those left behind. There is so much uncertainty and stress that will be endured as the court sorts out how things will be distributed – quite likely in a manner that YOU never would have wished for!
Settling an estate that is well planned for and documented in an Estate Plan after the passing of a loved one is certainly not stress free – but the plan does relieve one very large burden on an already grieving family – sometimes so much to the point that settling the estate can be looked at as an honor by those involved, for they are carrying out YOUR final wishes – truly a gift that you gave to your loved ones making the process less of a burden, and more of a final celebration of YOUR life!