Too many people put off estate planning, including creating a will, until it’s too late. It’s a too-common scenario: A loved one has passed on suddenly or is unable to make decisions on his/her own anymore, and the family doesn’t know where to find important information. The family doesn’t know what their loved one’s preferences are regarding medical decisions, end-of-life issues, or division of assets. Meanwhile, simple day-to-day items still need to be tackled, such as paying bills, and a representative hasn’t been identified who could help handle those items. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t put off estate planning, regardless of age. Here are only a few:
Ensure your children are cared for in your absence
Whether it’s a sudden medical crisis or the untimely passing of a parent, if you have children under the age of 18, it’s wise to consider creating an estate plan to ensure your children are provided for. You can establish a temporary guardian as well as a permanent guardian for any of your children. This removes the guesswork and any arguments within the family about who should care for your children, and ensures that your children are not subjected to the uncertainty of not knowing who will be looking after them in your absence.
Help your family members make decisions you would agree with
By getting your estate plans in order, you make sure your preferences and end-of-life decisions are documented. If you should become incapacitated or suddenly face a medical crisis, your family needs to know who can make decisions on your behalf, how you feel on certain medical issues, and what financial items need to be handled. Creating such instructions also saves your loved ones from having to be mind readers or become detectives. You can create your estate plan paperwork with your lawyer and then keep important records at home for the person who will take care of items on your behalf, such as pay bills, contact insurances, or even take care of your pets. Remove the guesswork for your family.
Ensure your assets go where you want them to go
If you want your assets to be given to charity rather than a specific family member, or if you want your estate to be divided in very specific ways, these decisions need to be documented in a will and trust. Otherwise, the estate could go through probate and state law will prevail with regard to decisions about how your assets are to be allocated. You will need to list beneficiaries as desired in your estate documents. You will need to designate beneficiaries with the providers of retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and 401(k)s. Your documents should be reviewed periodically to ensure beneficiary information is still accurate.
You can give a great gift to your family by establishing this paperwork early and reviewing it often. Talk to a lawyer to find out what estate planning you need to do for your family today.