If you are among the millions of Americans who do not have an estate plan in place yet, there is no time like the present to get started. To provide some encouragement, the Londonderry estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices explain ten important estate planning facts.
- Every adult can benefit from an estate plan. You should not wait until you reach a desired net worth and/or until you have a family to start estate planning. You should already have a plan in place when you reach these life goals.
- The state will create a plan for you if you fail to create one. If you pass away without so much as a basic estate plan in place, the state will effectively create that plan for you using the state intestate succession laws. Only close family members will inherit from your estate, leaving out an unmarried partner, close friends, and charities.
- You give up the ability to decide who will administer your estate if you don’t create an estate plan. Whether you use a Will or a trust to distribute your estate assets, an important benefit is the ability to decide who will oversee that process by appointing an Executor in your Will or a Trustee in your trust.
- Without an estate plan in place, someone not of your choosing could wind up caring for your minor children and the inheritance you left them. For the parents of young children, one of the most important benefits to executing a Will is found in the only official opportunity to nominate a guardian for those children if one is ever needed. Likewise, an estate plan lets a parent choose a Trustee to manage a child’s inheritance, held in trust, until the child is old enough to receive the inheritance directly.
- Estate planning can protect your assets from a variety of threats. Divorce, taxes, and long-term care costs are just a few of the potential threats to your assets. An irrevocable trust created as part of a comprehensive asset protection component can go a long way toward preventing the loss of assets.
- You can also protect your children from poor financial management decisions through you your own estate planning strategies. Whether your adult child is still relatively young, or just a spendthrift, handing over a significant lump sum inheritance may not be wise. A trust can be used to stagger the distribution of that inheritance and/or to dictate how the money can be used by the beneficiary.
- For unmarried couples, an estate plan can provide rights and protections that the law fails to provide. More and more couples are waiting to get married, or foregoing marriage altogether. Nevertheless, they are just as committed to each other as a traditional married couple. Unfortunately, the law continues to draw a sharp line between a legally married couple and one that is not when it comes to rights and protections. The good news is that an estate plan can confer those rights and protections on your partner.
- Estate planning ensures that your wishes will be honored, both while you are alive and after you are gone. If you suffer a period of incapacity, someone will need to take over control of your assets and make medical decisions for you. In the absence of estate planning documents that dictate who those people will be, a judge may have to decide for you. Likewise, if you have strong feelings regarding how your remains are handled after you are gone, only a comprehensive estate plan can ensure that those wishes are honored.
- The DIY route will likely cost your loved ones considerably more time and money than it saves you. It may be tempting to use DIY documents when creating your estate plan; however, those documents are often riddled with errors and omissions that will ultimately cost your loved ones much more time and money than you saved when it comes time to actually rely on those documents.
- Updating your estate plan is essential to ensure that it works as intended. Creating an estate plan is essential. Updating it on a routine basis and when life events dictate is equally important to ensure that it works as you intend.
Contact Londonderry Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about estate planning, contact the Londonderry estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
Most people start with a Will; however, as your estate and your family grow you may decide that a trust is a better option. Talk to your estate planning attorney about which is best for your situation.
If you do decide to use a trust to distribute your assets, you should still have a valid pour-over Will in place. As the name implies, a pour-over Will “pours” any over-looked or recently acquired assets “over” into your trust upon your death to ensure that they are not unintentionally left out.
During your working years, you should conduct a routine review every three to five years. After you retire, you may be able to move to a review every five to eight years. Make sure you also update your plan when life events dictate.