11 Jan Why the Time for Estate Planning is Now
Just hearing the words estate planning may elicit a range of emotions. Most people connect it immediately with death, and all of the fear, sorrow, and trepidation that the subject engenders. Well, if you’ve experienced loss you know that it’s not a time when you want to be further burdened with worry. Don’t let financial strain, or even disputes, increase your family’s suffering in a time of tragedy.
The truth is, if you handle estate planning now, you can save a lot of heartache later. In fact, with the help of a qualified professional, you may even enjoy estate planning as you focus on the good it will do.
Read on for some common misconceptions about estate planning and why you should do it now.
Misconceptions About Estate Planning
It’s Only for the Wealthy
On the contrary, whatever wealth you have–small or large–is important. If you don’t have as much as you dream about having, you’ll definitely want to keep expenses for your beneficiaries down. According to the American Bar Association, “Good estate planning can keep the cost of transferring property to beneficiaries as low as possible, leaving more money for your beneficiaries.”
It is true that estate taxes may vary widely (or be a non-issue) depending on where you live and the size of your estate. But estate planning is about more than just paying taxes. And, your estate doesn’t just mean your house and savings account. Everything you own figures into your list of assets. Unless you’re a minimalist hermit in a cave, you have wealth.
It’s Only for the Elderly
This is the part where you do have to face an unpleasant reality; you don’t know when tragedy may strike. If you have children under 18, you should be especially cognizant of their future needs. If you and your spouse were not around to provide for them, they could wind up in the court system. You will have no control over their futures, and they could experience additional trauma on top of an already live-altering loss.
I Only Need it if I Have Children
Whether you have children or not, your assets have to go someplace. And, someone has to cover end-of-life expenses. Also, someone needs authority to make decisions about your estate. If you plan ahead, you can name an executor or trustee to make sure those decisions are in the hands of someone you trust.
It Will Be Obvious Who Should Inherit My Wealth
Even if your family sees it that way, the court system does not. Let’s say you have only one child, and you assume that when you and your spouse are gone that child will automatically inherit your estate. He or she will have to go through probate, which can take months or years and will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Estate Planning Will Depress Me
Some people avoid estate planning for a long time because of the depressing implications. However, many find it life-affirming. Approach it as a family, and it can actually become a celebration of your love for one another. It may bring you closer together.
As with anything of this importance, complicated concepts and unfamiliar terms can overwhelm. That’s why it’s so important to enlist professional help. This one-time expense (with possible updates if needed down the road) will pay off in the long-run.
Estate planning can offer a chance to support a cause you care about. Set aside gifts for your favorite charities. You might establish a trust fund for a special person in your life, like a grandchild or other relative. If you run a business, you’ll ensure its future, too.
Still Need a Little Motivation?
Put it on your calendar. As with many things in life, it’s easy to put this off again and again. Set a deadline. Say, for example, you will complete your estate planning before your next birthday, before the birth of a child or grandchild, or simply by the first of next month. Just do it. It’s an effort you will never regret.
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