Estate planning is something that too many people put off or simply never do. Often this procrastination causes unnecessary suffering for family members after a disability or death.
The estate planning professionals at Skeeter, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey encourage you to take advantage of preparation now. This provides an assurance that your wishes will be carried out as you directed, and your assets are protected for future generations. Here are some suggestions that might help.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning allows you to make plans for an orderly disposition of your assets and affairs when you pass away, or in the event you become unable to manage your affairs while living. Here’s a critical point to remember: it doesn’t matter how large or small your estate is, everyone has one, and it’s in your best interest and your family’s best interest to plan for the future.
An estate plan can consist of an array of legal documents, but the most common and arguably the most useful are a last will and testament and durable powers of attorney. These legal instruments, if properly considered and drafted, allow you to ensure your wishes are followed in the event of death or disability.
Make Your Wishes Known With a Will and Testament
A last will and testament states what happens to your assets once you pass away. It also nominates someone to carry out your wishes as expressed in the will as the personal representative of your estate.
If you die without a last will and testament, your assets are passed along according to Kentucky’s statutes of descent and distribution. These statutes may include people you wouldn’t have included as beneficiaries of your estate, which often causes division and tension among surviving family members. Simply put, if you want to specify who inherits your assets when you die, you need a last will and testament. No one is in a better position to understand your circumstances, your family, and your wishes better than you are. So it’s important that you make these decisions now and that your wishes are legally binding.
Estate Planning Protects Assets
Estate planning is also critical in securing your assets and wealth at the time it’s transferred to your beneficiaries. An estate plan allows you to develop the most tax-efficient method of transfer and helps ensure that your assets remain with your beneficiaries.
Asset protection is also an essential component of estate planning as you plan for the future of any beneficiaries who may be minors. For example, the creation of trusts that hold the property to pay for health, education, and welfare expenses until your minor beneficiaries reach a certain age is a valuable assurance. Additionally, this type of plan has the added benefit of the minor beneficiary’s assets being protected in court-ordered guardianship.
Power of Attorney Protects You
Lastly, estate planning allows you to plan for the possibility that, in the distant future, you might not be able to handle your affairs. Now, you can designate someone who, if need be, can make business and medical decisions for you. These decisions are sometimes difficult, and if the day comes when you can’t make them for yourself, a thoughtfully considered and drafted power of attorney already has an individual you trust to make them for you. This relieves your other loved ones from the stress of those decisions.
Take Control of Your Future Now
A properly executed plan ensures that you’ve done all you can to care for yourself and your family in the event of your disability or death. If you have questions about where to start with estate planning in general or a specific element of your current plan, consult a qualified attorney who specializes in this area. They’ll walk you through all the options that best serve your needs, and customize a plan that meets all your wishes.