Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan:
Key Reasons to Start Today


We typically associate the term "estate" with the super-wealthy and elite, but as a matter of fact, estate planning is not just for them but everyone, regardless of financial status or family dynamics. Well, what is an estate plan exactly? Simply put, it is a bunch of documents that specify how your assets should be distributed, according to your wishes, but somehow most people neglect to put such plans in place, which can lead to confusion and conflict down the line. End-of-life planning may seem morbid, and of course, it is a little, but an estate plan protects you and your assets not just once you have left this plane of existence, but while you are still alive as well. So if you still have not considered incorporating an estate plan into your general financial plan, maybe the following reasons will convince you to contact the proper attorney and set a plan into motion, so let's jump right in.


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Avoiding Probate

Anyone who has ever had to deal with probate court, and all the strain, stress, and cost that come with it knows to avoid it at all costs. So, avoiding probate court is a very common reason why people reach out to an ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER, so once they have departed this life, everyone can avoid the arduous process that happens after their death. This usually means going to court to prove that the deceased person's will is valid, or even worse, having to identify and catalog the departed's property, before appraising it, assigning and paying taxes and debts, which is always fun, before distributing what is left of the property. As you can probably tell, the probate court is a pounding headache that could not have worse timing, as everyone is still processing having lost their loved one, and it is an expensive and stressful process with numerous variables and opportunities for complications, conflicts, and family infighting. Everyone who has been through it has some different horror story to share, so the best move is to consult an experienced lawyer who can help you avoid all these issues before they ever even become a factor, nipping them in the bud, so to speak.


Reduce Taxes

The very real prospect of losing an alarmingly large portion of your hard-earned estate to state and federal taxes is a powerful incentive to seek estate planning advice from an attorney. Taxes are already horrible, and having to pay exponentially more even though someone is dead is downright insulting. That is why, with the help of their attorney, married couples can lower or, with a little luck, even eliminate a lot of estate taxes by using tools like AB or ABC trusts. If you have the right lawyer by your side, you can also reduce the burden of yet another tax, the so-called inheritance tax, on your children or perhaps grandchildren by quite a significant amount.


Avoid Ugliness

How many times have we heard stories about the ugly infighting in families that occurs in the aftermath of a loved one's passing? Embarrassing the whole family, and fighting over scraps, these conflicts can spiral into entire feuds that last for years, and in extreme cases, whole decades. Not only will you be wasting money and time if you do not make a comprehensive estate plan, but you may also create chaos and problems for your family, leading to rifts and broken relationships. So to avoid family infighting and expensive probate court proceedings, fundamental decisions need to be made, like who will be in charge should you become physically or mentally incapacitated and who gets what, when, and how. The last thing anyone wants to happen when they have died is for their loved ones to scrape together over mere material possessions.


Not Covered by a Will

Not all your assets are covered or transferred by your will. Some assets transfer through something called beneficiary designations, so things like investments, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are some of these assets, which is why you want to ensure that you have designated beneficiaries for these policies and accounts, as otherwise, they may end up becoming part of your probate estate, which again, no one wants to happen. Real estate happens to transfer by deed, so for your property, you may want to consider filing something called a transfer on a death deed. But before you decide on anything, make sure you reach out to an accountant concerning any tax liabilities or benefits when transferring property, like capital gains tax, for example.

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Protect Your Loved Ones

Estate planning is not just about who to leave your things to, it is about looking after your beneficiaries and your loved ones when you no longer can, and generally, there are two reasons for this. To start with, your beneficiary may be a child. If your child is still a minor, state law requires the minor to have a guardian who will oversee their needs and finances until they reach legal age, which is 18 in most countries. However, as we know all too well, in some cases even adult beneficiaries need to be protected as well, bringing us neatly to the second major reason most people want to consult an estate lawyer. Even adults make stupid decisions sometimes, and an estate plan helps to protect them from said bad decisions, creditors, outside influences, and sometimes sadly, even their own spouse. It sounds depressing but it is a sadly common issue, so with an estate plan, you can isolate your beneficiary's inheritance from a manipulative, selfish spouse who might try and squander the inheritance or even try and seize it in a divorce.

There are many reasons why you should reach out to an estate planning attorney, as morbid as planning for the aftermath of your death may seem. Leaving things up to chance, or worse, the government, especially when you cannot jump up to take control of the situation anymore, is absolutely not the way you want to go.