“The word “estate” conjures images of great wealth, which may be one of the reasons so many people don’t develop estate plans. Afterall, they’re not rich, so why make the effort?”
However, if you have a family, you can probably benefit from estate planning, regardless of your asset level. The Montrose Press published an article, “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future,” that answers some of the big questions:
What will happen to my children? As part of your estate planning, you should name a guardian to take care of your children, if you pass away. You can also name a conservator–sometimes called a “guardian of the estate”–to manage the assets that your minor children inherit.
Will there be a battle over my assets? If you fail to put a solid estate plan in place, your assets could be subject to the time-consuming, expensive and public probate process. During probate, your relatives and creditors can get access to your records. They may even challenge your will. However, with proper planning, you can maintain your privacy.
Who will control my finances and my living situation, if I’m incapacitated? You can sign a durable power of attorney. This permits you to name someone to manage your financial affairs, if you’re incapacitated. A medical power of attorney lets the person you choose handle health care decisions for you, if you’re not able to do so yourself.
Will my family feel cheated if I leave significant assets to charities? As part of your estate plan, you have options. You could establish a charitable lead trust. This will provide financial support to your chosen charities for a set period. The remaining assets will then go to your family members. On the other hand, a charitable remainder trust will provide a stream of income for family members for the term of the trust. The remaining assets will then be transferred to one or more charitable organizations.
Careful estate planning with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney can answer many of the questions that may concern you.
Once you have your plans in place, you can face the future with greater clarity, peace of mind and confidence.
Reference: Montrose Press (July 7, 2019) “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future”