Many people think estate planning is for the wealthy or simply believe that there is no need for them to have an estate plan – after all, they don’t have much anyway. The reality is that anyone who has reached the age of majority in their state, has any assets which are important to them, or who has children should make an estate plan. A decent estate plan will include, as a minimum, a last will and testament, a durable general power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney and living will.
The fact is, whether your estate is large or small, there are many compelling reasons why everyone (with very few exceptions) should take the time to organize and plan their estate. For example, developing and implementing a good estate plan will ensure that:
• your assets will be managed during any period in which you are incapacitated (this is accomplished using a durable power of attorney);
• someone you know and trust will be able to make medical decisions in accordance with your specific instructions and wishes should you become incapacitated (this is accomplished using a healthcare power of attorney and a living will);
• your assets will be disposed of as you would have wanted following your death and you avoid intestacy – which is where the courts decide who inherits your assets based on state laws (this is done using a last will and testament);
• your family and friends will not have to wait months or even years to receive their inheritance following your death (this is done using estate planning techniques such as pay-of-death account, transfer-on-death securities, living trusts, insurance policies, tenancy and common and other similar methods);
• your children will be properly looked after by a guardian of your choosing and not one appointed by a court (this can be achieved using a last will and testament); and
• much more.
When it comes to estate planning, one thing is certain. If you fail to plan ahead, a judge will make all of the above decisions for you. In making these decisions, the judge will look your state’s law and the predefined estate plan that applies for everyone who fails to plan for the distribution of their estate themselves. In essence, a court will appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, dictate who receives your assets based on specific rules of inheritance (known as the rules of intestacy), appoint someone to look after your children and much more. What is worse, neither your wishes nor those of your family can override the decision of the court.
From the above, you can see that one of the most compelling reasons to prepare an estate plan sooner rather than later is control. If you have a proper estate plan in place then you, and not a court, can determine how your affairs are dealt with.
If you want to put that estate plan in place, EstateBee can help you. We provide all of the self-help documents, kits and books necessary to enable you to put your estate plan in place. We are experts in estate planning and have been in existence since 2000 – so we know what we are doing and we know how to help you. On top of that, all out documents have been prepared by lawyers and are written in easy to understand language.
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For more information on estate planning, read some of the other articles on this website.
You can also check out our book Estate Planning Essentials. It introduces you to estate planning and shows you how you can make an effective estate plan quickly and easily without the need for a lawyer. You’ll learn about estate planning devices such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, probate avoidance methods and more. To help you get a fuller understanding, particular attention is paid throughout to beneficiaries, children, disinheritance, incapacity, estate taxes and inheritance taxes. If you want to prepare an estate plan, this book is for you.
If you have any questions about our products or services, please contact our customer service team, who would be delighted to assist you.
Deborah is a journalist with a board spectrum of personal interests, who has a passion for writing on life matters.