Estate planning is not simply for tax minimization.
This is especially the case with the Federal Estate Tax Exemption at $5.49 million per customer.
Nevertheless, do you think estate planning is only for those who are incredibly wealthy?
According to a recent Trust Advisor article titled “Why An Estate Plan Is Beneficial,” estate planning is for everyone.
You worked hard for your money and your assets.
You do not want to lose any of it through improper planning.
Although charitable and financial planning are great estate planning goals, they are not the only ones.
Incapacity healthcare planning.
By definition, you are unable to make decisions when you are incapacitated.
Does this mean you have no say?
Not if you have an estate plan.
With an advance health care directive (ours contains three components: a health care directive, durable power of attorney for health care decisions and anatomical gift declaration), you can state your wishes in advance and know they will be carried out when necessary.
Without a last will and testament, revocable living trust or beneficiary designations, you may have no say over who gets what when it comes to your worldly assets.
The state will decide for you based on its own intestate laws.
Having your estate planning legal documents ship-shape will can save your loved ones time and money while transferring what you have to the proper people.
Do you have minor children?
If you die, who will care for them?
Will they be reared with the same values you would instill?
Will they be reared by someone who knows you or by a complete stranger?
In most states, guardians for children are designated in a last will and testament.
Be sure to discuss this designation with the chosen guardians as well.
Many of your assets are probably in the form of retirement accounts or insurance policies.
These are not necessarily transferred via a last will and testament or in a revocable living trust.
Instead, beneficiaries are designated directly in the accounts.
What does this mean for you?
Review and update often.
If you have a divorce, marriage, death or birth in your family, your wishes may change.
Be sure the correct people receive these assets—whether it be a loved one or a charity.
Whatever you do.
Do not do it alone.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will give you the best results for your specific needs.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
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), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Trust Advisor (April 29, 2017) “Why An Estate Plan Is Beneficial”