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We All Need to Have an Estate Plan. Are You Prepared?

Paper that says "estate Planning"If your family, especially your children, are still heavily dependent on you, you can still provide for them through proper estate planning, even if you are no longer present.

Putting off estate planning is never a good idea. Life happens, and before you know it, “someday” arrives. Having a comprehensive plan is advisable for everyone, says the South Florida Reporter in the article “Why Estate Planning is so Important.” It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor—you need an estate plan. People with families who depend upon them, as well as singles who don’t, all need to take the time to complete this important task.

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 about distributing your estate.

Having a comprehensive plan means that you have taken the time to decide 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 should 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 a 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.

The estate planning process 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 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.

Note that even the best documents to be updated every few years. Tax laws have changed with the new federal tax laws that were adopted in 2017. If your estate plan has not been reviewed by your estate planning attorney since 2017, it’s time for a review.

Requesting a consultation with one of the experienced estate planning attorneys at Estate Law Partners, LLC, is easy. Just submit our online form to start the process of creating your comprehensive estate plan.

Reference: South Florida Reporter (June 12, 2019) “Why Estate Planning is so Important.”
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