The start of each year makes us think about what’s important and what we want to accomplish. Protecting our family and maintaining financial security are top of that list for most people. Proper estate planning can help you reach both those goals. Here’s why you should get started on your estate plan:
Avoid Probate to Save Time and Money
Without proper planning, even if you have a will, your loved ones will need to go through probate when you die. Probate is a process that involves court and lawyer fees and a lengthy process that can take over a year. During that time, your family will not have free access to the assets you left them. You can avoid this by putting all your assets into a living trust, so they will get distributed to your heirs without the need for the probate process.
Save Your Estate’s Value for Your Loved Ones
There is no reason why you should pay more in taxes, professional fees, and court costs than you need to. A well-crafted estate plan reduces taxes on your estate and can help reduce or eliminate probate fees and other legal fees.
Make Sure Assets Get to the Right Person
When you don’t have an estate plan, Massachusetts’ laws of intestacy distribute your estate for you. However, these rules often pass the assets on to people in a way that is against the deceased’s personal wishes. Having an estate plan means that you make these important decisions, not the state.
Protect and Provide for Your Children
Although making the decision of who would be your children’s guardian can be a difficult one, it is essential if you have minor children. And if you don’t make the decision, the court will. If you want to leave an inheritance to your child or grandchild but don’t want them managing large amounts of money while still young, you can create a trust that will distribute their inheritance as you choose—perhaps gradually over the years or when they reach a certain age.
Plan for Changes in Your Health to Protect You and Your Loved Ones
In case you ever become incapacitated, having the proper estate planning documents like a health care proxy and power of attorney will help your loved ones follow your wishes for your care. Without these documents, your loved ones may need to go through a long and costly court process to establish guardianship or conservatorship. Also, the costs of long-term care can be overwhelming, and without proper planning, can completely wipe out your estate.
Maintain Family Harmony
By making no decisions about what you want to happen to your assets, you could be leading your loved ones into an arena of disagreements and tension which could leave your family fractured. Make you choices clear and you’ll be able to eliminate or at least limit any issues down the road.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Getting started is really the hardest part of estate planning. The actual process is fairly quick and inexpensive and will provide you with enormous peace of mind. Even better, estate planning is an investment for your family that will almost assuredly pay for itself ten-fold, either by avoiding unnecessary tax and probate fees down the road or by protecting assets from long-term care costs and other creditors. Contact us at 617.299.6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org now to get started on protecting your assets and loved ones in the new year.