Planning for what happens after you die might not be the most pleasant of tasks. However, it’s undoubtedly among the most important.
Without an estate plan in place, those you care about most might be left not only missing you but facing a myriad of expensive tax and legal problems. Worse, the lack of proper estate planning could leave your loved ones at odds with each other, a situation you would never want in life, and certainly want to avoid in death.
If you’re still not sure whether estate planning is for you, consider these four ways it could protect what you’ve worked so hard to build.
Distribute Your Property As You Wish
Unfortunately, you can’t safely assume that everything you have will automatically go to your spouse or children when you die. An estate planning attorney can prepare wills, trusts, and other documents that specifically spell out who gets what – from your home to your investment accounts to your grandmother’s china.
Without a will, complex estate laws govern. If you opt out of estate planning, a court may end up making the final decisions for you. And sadly, a contested estate proceeding can drag on for years, costing your family time, money, and emotional energy.
Protect Your Younger Children
The thought of departing this world too soon and leaving your children behind is devastating. However, to adequately protect them, you have to prepare for the worst.
A will enables you to designate a guardian for your kids if you pass away while they are still minors. Additionally, a well-drafted trust can ensure they are financially cared for in the way you intended. Without these documents in place, you have no control over who will raise your kids after you’re gone—which may be the only thing worse than dying prematurely.
Maintain Your Family’s Relationships
Unfortunately, battles over a deceased loved one’s assets are all too common. Whether it be a sister who thinks she deserves more of the wealth or a cousin who’s disgruntled about not receiving anything, dying without an adequate estate plan is one sure-fire way to start a family war.
By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can maintain control over your finances and assets, even in death. And if family members are unhappy with the asset distribution, they can blame you rather than each other.
Provide For Your Loved Ones – Not Uncle Sam
You want to take care of your loved ones after you’re gone, not leave them with unexpected tax debts.
Estate planning can help you transfer assets during your lifetime to minimize any after-death tax burdens. An estate planning attorney can also offer strategies to reduce the taxes assessed on your overall estate and your individual beneficiaries.
Estate planning isn’t just for the extremely wealthy. Settling your affairs without an adequate estate plan could have long-lasting—and costly—consequences for your loved ones, regardless of the value of your assets. If you’d like to learn more about how an estate planning attorney can help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to sit down with you to discuss your options and how best to plan for your family’s future.