Estate planning is the process by which you plan in advance as to how your assets and medical care are to be managed or distributed upon your becoming mentally incapacitated or upon your death.
This is to be distinguished from financial planning which is the process of making your money do what you want it to do, such as generating taxable or nontaxable income or generating value.
Your “estate” in general terms, consists of all your assets, such as: house, cabin, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, annuities and all forms of tangible personal property from automobiles to furniture.
Everyone from age eighteen and on should plan their estate.
Estate planning covers such topics as:
- Who and how will your assets be managed if you are incapacitated for a length of time
- How do you get your assets to the people you want to have them after you are gone
- What do you want to have in terms of medical care in a variety of situations
- How do you choose someone to make and carry out personal and financial decisions for you
- How do you make sure your children do not waste or get defrauded out of what you have worked so hard for
- Who will look after your minor children
- How do you avoid or at least minimize the income taxes and death taxes on your assets
- What is the most expedient way to settle your estate
- If you anticipate family problems, what is the best way to overcome them
These are a few of the parts of the estate planning process. Choices made today may not be the same choice you would make ten years in the future.
Plans must be reviewed and updated
Poor planning can be devastating to your loved ones. Second or subsequent marriages, for example, where there is a failure to plan for children from a first marriage, may leave children disinherited. It says to them, your existence is not important enough for me to plan for, good by, good luck and look out for yourself.
Also, if you believe that one of your children is the most trustworthy or the only one in town, you leave all to that child, expecting it to be split up. Unfortunately that child may die, and the asset goes to his spouse or children, or that child may say something like, “my siblings did nothing, why should I give them anything,” and keep the assets.
The end product of this good planning process are documents providing legally enforceable directions as to how you want to have medical, personal and financial decisions made and who is to receive your assets when you are gone.
My office provides you with quality documents custom made to implement your directions.