People don’t like to get involved in estate planning. They think it’s morbid, unnecessary, and time-consuming. However, it can become a much different story should the unthinkable happen and a family is left in mourning with a mountain of red tape and court appearances to wade through.
Investing time in estate planning is actually an act of service for your family and should be undertaken no matter what the state of your affairs may be. The lack of a sizable inheritance or nest egg to bequeath to future generations need not deter you from accomplishing this important objective. Money is just a small portion of estate planning.
6 Important Reasons to Have an Estate Plan
- Prevent family feuds – Even the most tight-knit family might get into ugly fights when it comes to deciding who gets what mementos of you. This can happen even when the objects in discussion have no monetary value—rather, children may attach significant sentimental value to the items. You can avoid this headache by dividing up your items equally, taking into account each child’s preferences.
- Specify continuation of care – If you provide care for aging parents, a disabled adult child, or young children, you’ll want to ensure their care should you be unable to provide it for them. An estate plan allows you to dictate how care should be continued in your absence.
- Dictate business succession – If you own a company it’s important you provide instructions for how it will continue to run when you are gone. Do you have a son you’ve been grooming to inherit the station? Is there a business partner to consider? You can explain in your estate plan how the business should work, thus ensuring its continued success.
- Make health care decisions – You never know when accidents might happen, leaving you alive but incapacitated. Times of crisis make effective decision-making difficult for your family, especially when they don’t know what you want. In an estate plan you can specify what type of health decisions you desire and select someone to make further decisions on your behalf as long as you are unable to do so.
- Take inventory – No matter how much or how little worldly wealth you may have, an estate plan allows you to take stock of what you own, thus enabling you to make smarter retirement plans. If you know what your estate entails, you’ll know what funds you have to draw on in the future and how to maximize your assets most effectively.
- Make funeral arrangements – These arrangements are a necessary evil for family members to deal with, but you can make it easier on them by making your wishes known ahead of time. In lieu of flowers, do you want people to donate money to a particular charity? Do you have a strong preference of where you’d like to be buried? You can even allocate some portion of your assets to help cover the costs so your family can spend less time making money decisions and more time celebrating the life you lived.
No one plans on leaving estate planning until the last minute—after all, they don’t know when that last minute will be. Planning ahead can be a great service to your family in their time of grief. And there are experienced attorneys available who can help you with all the necessary arrangements and decision-making so you don’t feel like you have to figure it all out on your own.