Estate planning is the umbrella term that lawyers use to describe the process of organizing your affairs so that it is clear over time who controls yourself and your stuff, who gets to benefit from your stuff, and when they get to benefit.
Little planning is required when you are alive and well: you control your stuff, you get to decide who benefits and you get to decide when they benefit. Failing to make a plan if you or your spouse become disabled can make an already difficult time even worse for your loved ones. And when you die, if you have not made a plan for yourself, the state has a plan for you, which may or may not reflect your desires.
If you are interested in learning more about estate planning, and traps to watch out for,
A little planning now can go a long way, and can minimize expense, delay, taxation, and frustration in the long term.
Establishing a contingency plan for yourself if you become disabled is a responsible and caring act for both yourself and your loved ones. The plan must be established before it is needed. If not, your loved ones may have to go to court to take care of you.
It is important, if you become disabled for a short time or a longer period of time, to have identified who you want to make medical decisions for you as well as who you want to take care of your financial affairs. Put another way: who do you want to be in control of you and your stuff if you can’t take care of it? Part of an effective estate plan is having appropriate powers of attorney in place before they are needed.
Have a plan in place for when you die. You can use a will or a trust to say who is in control of your stuff when you die, who gets to benefit from your stuff, and when they get to benefit.
A trust can also protect your beneficiaries from creditors, divorce, or disabilities they may have. All of this is part of estate planning, and can only be accomplished with a carefully coordinated plan that accounts for your values and desires.
Many people with blended families are also concerned to make sure that the people they want to benefit from their estate will actually benefit from their estate. Leaving this to chance or good intentions may not accomplish the goal and may result in estrangement or lawsuits.
Many business owners also want to make sure their business goes where they want it to go and that it benefits the people they want to benefit from it. This is another important element of estate planning.
You will learn a lot, have fun, and the seminar will go quickly.