By Linda E. Becker, Esq., founder of The Becker Law Firm, LLC
A way to make the unthinkable more bearable: An Estate Plan as added protection for your family: Estate planning is the means to determine what happens to you and your property when you can no longer make those decisions whether due to incapacity or death. Without an estate plan, you stand to make a challenging time even tougher for your loved ones. If you don’t have an Estate Plan, it can not only delay your medical care if you become incapacitated but make it more difficult to pass your wealth to your heirs when you die.
The protection you need, before you need it: Making the decisions associated with your final arrangements may be difficult and scary, but it’s better for you to make these choices during a time of comparative calm. Selecting the services and arrangements that you think are most appropriate takes the burden off your family and loved ones when you are no longer here. Taking these steps today to create a well thought-out estate plan can help make sure your wishes are met.
Don’t wait until you’re old to protect your loved ones: Just because you are young does not mean bad things can’t happen to you. Unfortunately, we can’t predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages. While it may be difficult to grasp, the reality is that you might have an accident and need to keep bills paid for a period of time. Or worse, become disabled and face end-of-life decisions. Unforeseen tragedies aside, an estate plan is useful even when you’re young because an estate plan is not just about death. It is important to express your wishes, don’t place the burden on your family and loved ones to make the myriad of decisions. A good estate plan will include not only a Will, but also a healthcare directive and HIPAA Authorization, Power of Attorney documents, and legal documents relating to minor children.
It’s not just for the rich and famous: It is false to assume that you only need an estate plan if you have money. You may be single, married, divorced, remarried, an only child, one of six siblings, have a life partner or children. Simply put, an “estate” is really anything you own. By planning ahead and establishing an estate plan, you are making your wishes known with the added bonus of making it easier on your loved ones.
There’s more to it than money: Although money is one of the main motivating factors behind the creation of an estate plan, money is not what estate planning is all about. Estate planning is about people and their wishes. Estate planning is also about your family. A good estate plan will save your family from a lengthy probate process, and reassures your loved ones that they are doing what you really would have wanted. Expressing what you want in your estate plan will also help to prevent and avoid family conflicts. An estate plan is full of documents designed to allow you to express your wishes and values even after your death.
Stay organized, Stay current: Without an estate plan, your family members likely will not know where to find your financial records, titles, and insurance policies if something happened to you. Planning your estate now will help you organize your records, locate titles and beneficiary designations, and find and correct errors. Most folks don’t give much thought to the wording on titles and beneficiary designations until they are faced with needing to “fix” it. You may have good intentions, but even an innocent error regardless of how “minor” you may deem it to be, can create all kinds of problems for your family at your incapacity or death. For example, naming the wrong beneficiary on your tax-deferred plan can lead to devastating tax consequences for your heirs. It is better for you to take the time to do this correctly now, while you can, than for your family to be forced to maneuver through the difficult process.
Change in times, the single parent: Being a good parent carries a lot of responsibility. That responsibility is compounded if you are a single parent. Creating an estate plan allows you to express your wishes as to what would happen to your children if you became incapacitated or died unexpectedly, including who would take care of them, manage their finances, and pay for their housing, food and education? It is important for your children’s guardian, who will stand to make health care and financial decisions for them to have your guidance.
Mention DENVER PARENT when you call 720-460-4207 for your 30-minute Estate Planning Consultation and the $100 fee will be waived.