Most people don’t think they need to engage in “Estate Planning.” They may say, “That’s only for the rich.” But, everyone needs to plan for the inevitable. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, you need to plan ahead. Here are ten reasons to plan.
1. Loss of Capacity. What if you become unable to manage your own affairs? Without a plan, a Judge may have to decide what happens to you and your money. With a plan, you pick the person who will handle things for you.
2. Minor children. Who will raise your children if you die? Without a plan, a Judge will decide. With a plan, you get to nominate the guardian of your choice.
3. Dying without a Will. Who will get your assets when you are gone? Without a plan, the law says who gets your stuff. With a plan, you get to choose who gets what, and how and when they may receive their inheritance.
4. Blended Families. What if your family has multiple marriages, children and grandchildren? Without a plan, some will not be treated the same as others and may not get an inheritance. With a plan, you determine what goes to your spouse, and what goes to which children and grandchildren.
5. Children with Special Needs. Without a plan your special needs child may lose Medicaid or SSI benefits and may have to spend his inheritance on care needs. With a plan, you can set up a Supplemental Needs Trust that will allow the child to remain eligible for government benefits and still have the trust assets to pay for other expenses that aren’t covered by those benefits.
6. Keeping assets in the family. Without a plan, your child’s spouse may wind up with your money. With a plan, you can set up a trust that ensures that your assets will stay within your family.
7. Financial security. Without a plan and with no life insurance, your family may be unable to live normally. With a plan, life insurance can mean that your family will enjoy financial security.
8. Retirement accounts. (IRAs or 401k accounts.) Without a plan, your beneficiary may not reflect your current wishes and may have negative tax consequences. With a plan, you can choose the optimal beneficiary with the best tax results.
9. Business ownership. Without a plan, and if you don’t name a successor, you risk that your family could lose control of the business. With a plan, you choose who will own and control the business after you are gone.
10. Avoiding probate. Without a plan, your estate may be subject to delays and fees and your affairs will be a matter of public record. With a plan, you can structure things so that probate can be avoided and your privacy maintained.