It doesn’t matter how much money you have. You always need an estate plan, whether married or single, in order to be sure those left behind are cared for and that your assets are distributed as you wish, according to the South Florida Reporter in “Why Estate Planning is so Important.”
What exactly does estate planning mean? Estate planning is planning for the disposition of your assets when you have died. It’s also done to protect you and your family in the event you become incapacitated and cannot convey your wishes to others. it protects your family from complications, unnecessary costs and delays in distributing your estate.
Having an estate plan means that you have taken the time to plan out what you want to happen to your property and how you want to take care of your family when you are gone. For those who have young children, your last will and testament is the document used to name the person who will raise your children. It also lets you appoint a separate person (although it can be the same person) who will look after your finances with regard to your children.
Without a will, a court will decide what will happen to your children and your property. The court must follow the laws of your state, which may not be what you had in mind. Let’s say you have a brother who lives far away and from whom you are estranged. If you don’t have a will and he is your legal next-of-kin, in some states he will inherit everything you own. It’s far better to have a will.
Estate planning also includes tax planning. Having an estate plan that is created by an experienced estate planning attorney with knowledge of tax planning will allow you to minimize your tax liability and make sure more of your assets are passed to the next generation than are passed to the government.
Having an estate plans gives you the opportunity to take a long look at your life and your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to leave behind part of your estate to a charity, a school or a healthcare facility that has been important to you or another family member? Planning for charitable giving is also part of an estate plan. Some people give because they are seeking tax benefits, but many are generous because they are creating a legacy.
Your estate plan can include a letter to your heirs explaining why you have made the decisions you have about your possessions and assets. This kind of letter is not a legally enforceable document. However, if there is a dispute about your will, it can be used to support your intentions.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating and then updating, as necessary, an estate plan that fits your specific circumstances.
Reference: South Florida Reporter (June 12, 2019) “Why Estate Planning is so Important.”