Creating an estate plan is a highly individualized process. The choices you make and the wishes you articulate will ultimately be much different from your friend’s, your neighbor’s, your brother’s, or your sister’s.
With that said, your estate plan isn’t just about you. It’s ultimately meant to protect your entire family, including those who survive you. Indeed, when you work with an estate planning attorney, one of your first questions should be: What can we do to make sure my family is well taken care of? Here are a few possible answers.
One reason to work with an estate planning lawyer is that it allows you to clearly outline your true wishes and desires, particularly with regard to prickly issues such as end-of-life care.
For example, using advance healthcare directives or a durable power of attorney, you can specify who you’d like to make decisions for you should you ever become incapacitated. And, you can outline your feelings about the use of breathing machines or feeding tubes.
By being clear in your intentions, you can spare your family members from having to agonize over what you really want, or how you wish to be cared for.
Another important component of estate planning is keeping your assets out of probate court.
You may not know it, but without the right estate planning documents, your assets won’t simply default to your next of kin. They’ll get caught up in probate court, which can lead to some real hassles, headaches, and court expenses for your heirs.
What’s more, a will alone isn’t sufficient for keeping your assets out of probate. You’ll need a more robust and comprehensive estate plan, which an estate planning law firm can help you with.
Another consideration to raise with your estate planning lawyer: Tax protections.
Simply put, you want your heirs to receive as much value as possible from your estate. You don’t want its worth to be depleted through onerous taxes.
A common misconception about estate planning is that it’s all about clarifying who gets what. That’s definitely important, but it also matters how you pass those assets down. An estate planning law firm can assist you in distributing assets in a way that minimizes the tax burden, which is ultimately in your heirs’ best interest.
One of the most obvious ways in which an estate plan protects your family? It allows you to name the person or the people you wish to be guardians for your children, should you and your spouse or partner both die at the same time.
Again, there are some common misconceptions that need to be combatted. You might assume that guardianship of your kids would automatically go to your siblings or your parents, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Indeed, if you don’t specify it in your will, guardianship of your kids can get wrapped up in probate court, and it’s possible your true wishes won’t be honored. Make sure you and your estate planning attorney talk at length about what’s best for your children.
The bottom line is that estate planning is a great way to clarify your wishes, but it’s not only about you! It’s also an important mechanism by which you can take care of your family, even after you die.
If you’re ready to meet with an estate planning attorney, and to do what’s best for your spouse and/or kids, reach out to Singh Law Firm right away.