10 Reasons Why the Time is Now

April 4, 2019

Like dieting, some things in life lend themselves to procrastination. “I’ll start next week” may be your mantra, but your estate plan is a serious and important matter. Every day individuals and families experience medical, personal and financial difficulties that could have been avoided with an appropriate estate plan. The time for planning is now! Here are the top ten reasons why.

1. Preserve Your Autonomy

Your personal plan for incapacity will preserve your autonomy, protecting you and your family in cases of accident or illness. Your plan for incapacity spells out who will make financial and medical decisions for you and establishes any limits that you want on your decision makers. Without a plan in place a Court may appoint individuals that you never wanted to be in that position. Failure to plan also creates an opportunity for uncooperative family members to battle for control over you and your property. Your plan for incapacity is the most important step you can take to make things easier for your loved ones in the event they need to care for you at some time in the future.

2. Take Care of Your Children

If you have minor children you must create an estate plan that will nominate guardians in the event both parents died. Without a nomination in place a Court will appoint a guardian and it may be someone you would not approve of. In addition to the appointment of guardians, your estate plan can protect your children from themselves in cases of poor money management or poor marriages. You can protect your children’s inheritances from creditors, divorces and disability. If you have a child with special needs, it is critical that your plan protect your child’s eligibility for disability benefits. Neglecting this issue often results in disabled individuals losing public benefits, as well as the benefits of any inheritance.

3. Protect Your Spouse

Many people are shocked to learn that if you die without a will, your spouse does not automatically inherit your estate. This can be especially painful with blended families and often creates unexpected results and intense family conflicts. Don’t set up a situation where your spouse has to explain and/or fight with your children to maintain his or her household. Conversely, don’t unintentionally disinherit your children. This is one of the biggest reasons people procrastinate in making an estate plan, but failure to address this may leave your family with one big financial and emotional mess.

4. Save Estate Tax

While the federal government does not tax estates below five million dollars, many States have exemptions of one to two million dollars. That means many more estates are subject to estate tax at the State level. Established planning strategies reduce and eliminate estate tax. If you fail to plan for estate tax your family may pay significantly more than necessary, meaning the government gets more and your family gets less.

5. Plan For Long Term Care Costs

If you need nursing home care for an extended period the costs are astronomical, ranging from $9,000 to $12,000 per month. In addition, the only public benefit that covers such care is Medicaid. Medicaid is a means tested program that requires you impoverish yourself (and your spouse) to be eligible. Your estate plan should address your specific needs with respect to possible long term care costs. If you receive a diagnosis of dementia or other debilitating conditions advance planning can preserve your estate, protect your spouse, minimize how much you have to spend on long term care and maximize assets for your family.

6. Preserve Your Business

Business owners have special concerns when it comes to estate planning. Who will run your business if you are not able? Can the business survive without you at the helm? Most importantly, you want to assure that if you should become incapacitated or die, the continuation of the business will not be subject to supervision by a Probate Court. Making the proper arrangements in your estate plan will preserve the value of your business and facilitate your succession plan.

7. Save Time and Money

The simple truth is failure to plan costs more and takes more time. You may unnecessarily subject your estate to creditor claims and the expense of defending against them. You may need proceedings in more than one State. Searches for heirs can cost thousands of dollars. And the unplanned estate usually requires more Court oversight, more Court hearings, and of course, more time and more expense. It is simply expensive and inconvenient.

8. Protect Your Privacy

If privacy is important to you protect it with your estate plan. There are tried and true estate planning tools that never need to go on the public record.

9. Share Your Wishes

While no one likes to think about the end of life, advances in technology and medicine mean we are living longer and living longer with debilitating illnesses. When you create your estate plan, you also create the perfect opportunity to share with your loved ones your deepest desires for the end of your life. Estate planning tools can help you begin “the conversation” and memorialize your individual wishes regarding extraordinary medical procedures such as life support and feeding tubes. Providing your loved ones with clear and explicit wishes is a loving act that could save them from agonizing decisions in times of crisis and uncertainty.

10. Create Your Legal Substitute

I’m sure you have someone who can fill in for you when you are sick and can’t work. Your estate plan is the plan you create to take care of your family and loved ones when you can’t be there yourself. Once it is established you have a legal “stand in” to implement your most important goals and desires and to protect a lifetime of hard work, love and concern. Now is the time!!

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