The title begs a pretty simple question, oui? According to commonly cited statistics, some 70% of adults do not have even a simple last will and testament. Many of them likely (and mistakenly) believe that they have no "estate" for which to plan.
Au contraire mon ami!
Everyone age 18 and older needs at least basic estate planning.
In fact, on that magical age when you hit age 18, you become an adult responsible for making your own personal, health care and financial decisions.
And, if you have not appointed someone you know and trust to take care of such decisions should you become incapacitated, then you and your loved ones will get to experience the "lawyer full-employment program" ... also known as a "guardianship and conservatorship" proceeding in your local probate court. Whew.
Some key tools to avoid this unpleasant and expensive experience are the advance health care directive and the general durable power of attorney for financial decisions
Bottom line: If you are at least age 18, get your fundamental estate plan inked without delay.
Interestingly, a recent article in the Capital Gazette, titled "Estate planning, it's not just for the rich," reminds us of some important additional sets you can take to get your estate organized.
Communication is important when it comes to estate planning! No surprise there.
Consequently, you should talk with your loved ones and the executor of your will about your plans and wishes.
You should also speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and do the following:
- Get a will. This lets you to decide how your assets will be distributed when you die and (if applicable) who will be the guardian of your minor children.
- Stay up-to-date regarding the beneficiaries of your insurance policies, retirement plans, and other documents. The original article reminds us that beneficiary designations are a very easy way to transfer property, and the designation trumps a contrary designation in a will. Accordingly, be mindful that these designations are consistent with your overall estate distribution wishes.
While you are at it, calculate your net worth. If your estate is less than $5.34 million, then your estate will not be subject to the estate tax. If your net worth is more, then you should speak with your estate planning attorney to develop a strategy to minimize or eliminate the estate tax burden.
Proper estate planning will make sure more of your estate goes to your loved ones and not to paying taxes.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Capital Gazette (September 19, 2014) "Estate planning, it's not just for the rich"