09 Aug Estate Planning: Is It Always Necessary?
Estate planning is an important task everyone should check off their to-do list for a number of reasons. Creating legal documents is one way to protect you and your loved ones from harm in the event of a medical emergency, for example. It’s easy to question, however, whether or not a daunting task like estate planning deserves a spot on your to-do list. After all, if you aren’t worried about redistributing assets or don’t have children to plan for, do you really need to create a plan? The answer is yes, everyone should create a plan. Here’s why:
Estate planning is about more than redistributing wealth
One common misconception about estate planning is that only the wealthy need a plan. This misconception stems from the belief that estate planning is all about redistributing wealth. You can and should use your plan as a wealth redistribution tool, but it’s capable of doing much more. For example, estate plans protect people and their loved ones from the unpredictable. To do this, your estate plan should include power of attorney documents (POA) and a living will. These documents protect you in the event of a medical emergency by giving a chosen individual the power to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf as well as stating your wishes in relation to life sustaining care. With documents like these in place, your estate plan can properly take care of you in life and after death, no wealth redistribution planning required.
That’s not to say redistributing wealth through your plan isn’t something to consider
While estate plans are capable of doing more than redistributing wealth, their wealth redistribution benefits shouldn’t be overlooked. Creating a last will and testament is the simplest way to redistribute wealth using your plan. In your last will, you list your assets and include who’d you like to receive them. Individuals with more complex inheritnace needs have other options, including a number of trusts. Trusts come in different forms to fit different needs. Your attorney should work with you to determine the type that best fits your situation. The key benefit trusts provide is their ability to avoid the probate process. By avoiding probate, which is the process used to settle an individual’s estate when they die, trusts keep information about who received what for an inheritance private.
You may not have specific privacy concerns that would cause you to need a trust, but creating estate planning documents, like a trust, enables you to dictate how your assets are distributed when you die. This is because without a last will, your assets are divided using the intestate laws of the state in which you live. To learn more about Nebraska’s intestate laws, click here.
There’s more to plan for than children in an estate plan
Another common estate planning misconception is that if you don’t have children, you don’t need a plan. People with children who are minors use their last will to name a legal guardian. A legal guardian is someone who steps in to care for minor children if something happens to their parents(s)/guardian(s). However, estate plans do more than name a legal guardian. For example, plans name the aforementioned POAs and a personal representative. A personal representative is the individual responsible for settling a person’s estate when they die. You ensure the best person has the job by creating a last will and naming a person yourself. If you don’t create a plan and select a personal representative, a judge will name one for you after you die. That individual may not have been the best person for the job.
How can Boyum Law Firm help you?
Boyum Law Firm can help you with your estate planning, Medicaid planning, and probate law needs. To contact Boyum Law, click here.