What Is Estate Planning?

If you’re wondering whether you need estate planning, the answer is yes. Nearly everyone has an estate of some kind. Your estate consists of everything you own: Your car, property, bank accounts, investment accounts, and other personal possessions. If you want to control what happens to these things in the event you are incapacitated or die, creating an estate plan is a great way to do that.

What Is Estate Planning?

Determining what happens to your possessions when you die is one aspect of estate planning. But, there’s a lot more to estate planning than that. An estate plan is an opportunity to express your wishes in several areas, including: 

  • Naming a guardian for minor children
  • Specifying support for special needs family members
  • Providing instructions for medical care if you are incapacitated
  • Determining how your business should transfer to another party
  • Designating who should make decisions about medical affairs or financial matters

Benefits of Estate Planning

Advanced planning has many benefits. No one wants to think about becoming disabled or their own end of life. However, as the saying goes, “death and taxes”: putting a plan together is a way to protect your loved ones when it matters most. It also ensures that your wishes will be respected in the way you envision. The top three ways an estate plan benefits you:

Protect Your Assets

With an estate plan, you make sure that your possessions transfer to designated beneficiaries with less time and costs. Some assets such as a life insurance policy or retirement account transfer directly to named beneficiaries. With other assets, the courts may need to be involved with the transfer. Your estate plan can help minimize the added burden of probate court by creating a revocable living trust.

Express Your Wishes

When you create a will as part of your estate planning process, you decide who receives your assets rather than another party deciding that for you. More on that below.

Designate Decisionmakers

Estate planning also allows you to choose who will make decisions on your behalf. You can appoint a person to be in charge of financial affairs, and you can also designate a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions if you are unable.

What Happens Without An Estate Plan?

The ultimate benefit of having an estate plan is having a say in what happens if you become seriously ill or when you die. Without it, the courts may decide what happens. That means if you become disabled and unable to make decisions, the courts will appoint a decisionmaker for you. In the event of your death, the courts determine who receives your assets based on state laws. Again, this may not be in line with your wishes. 

An estate plan avoids someone else controlling your legacy. It is added peace of mind that your family and loved ones will be cared for, and your wishes will be observed.

Where Do I Start? 

The best way to get started is to talk to our estate planning professionals. We can help you put together a plan so you can preserve your legacy. Contact Us