An Estate Plan is about more than just your Will and planning for what happens after your death. A good Estate Plan will also include planning for what happens if you become incapacitated. You should also consider including a Power of Attorney for Health Care, Advance Directive, Power of Attorney for Finances, Transfer of Death Deed for any real estate and possibly a trust in your Estate Plan. My reasons to create an Estate Plan include considerations for these additional documents.
- Keep the Family Peace. After your death, family members fighting over money can be an explosive, nasty legal battle. Memorializing your wishes minimizes the family discord so there is no room for disagreement about what you wanted and what happens after you’re gone.
- Protect Your Loved Ones from making hard medical choices. Spare your loved ones from difficult situations, during your life and after your death. Make your wishes for your end of life care known! With proper planning, you can make difficult medical decisions now, and spare your loved ones the pain (and possible disagreement) of making those decisions later.
- Loss of capacity. Planning ahead lets YOU decide who will manage your heath care and financial decisions if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs. If you don’t plan for this possibility, you could end up going through an expensive judicial process to appoint a guardian.
- Minor children. If you are leaving assets to minor children, you should not leave those assets outright to the minor children. A proper estate plan will also allow you to choose who will care for your children if you die, and who will take care of the money you leave them. Children with special needs require specialized planning to avoid losing necessary benefits.
- Smooth, inexpensive transition.Think of all the things you would need to sign to transfer bank accounts, property and real estate out of your name. After death, you cannot sign for yourself, so the court appoints a Personal Representative to essentially sign for you, a process referred to as PROBATE. If you plan ahead, there are more efficient ways to transfer your assets. Probate is a manageable process, but it is usually time consuming, public, and can be costly.
- Peace of mind. Your children will stop pestering you to get this done and you will have security and satisfaction of knowing your affairs are in order.
- Control over the process. Having your estate planning in place and current is the only way you control who will handle decisions upon your incapacity, your estate after your death, and who will inherit from you. If you do not carefully plan, you are opening the door to disputes and the possibility of Court intervention.
- Choosing your heirs. You have worked hard to build your assets; you should decide how they are distributed after your death.
- Save money. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Investing your time and money now is far less expensive than waiting until it is too late. Sitzmann Law Firm offers predictable, flat fee estate planning.
- Inventory your assets. When you plan your estate, it forces you to think about how to maximize the value of everything you own. Making a list of your assets will make it far easier for your loved ones to transfer your assets after you death. Keep your inventory and a list of your online passwords in a safe place and tell someone where it is!
Call your attorney to begin the estate planning process!
Written by Attorney Sara Micheletti, firstname.lastname@example.org