One of the most popular questions I get is: “Why do I need an estate plan?”
My general answer is, “if you love and want to prevent your family from having any complications after you pass away; then you’ll create one.”
Unfortunately, there are many examples of this as Dr. Martin Luther King, Prince and former NFL football star Steve McNair all passed away without an estate plan which is still causing issues within their families.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s family is still fighting over control of this estate. Steve McNair’s estate assets were listed at nearly $20 million, with no plan for how it would be allocated and finally, Prince left behind approximately $300 million of intellectual property rights with no plan on how they were to be distributed.
Although most individuals do not have this type of wealth, the complications of these celebrities’ families should serve as a reminder of why it’s important to have a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and perhaps a Trust, whether revocable or irrevocable.
With proper planning and help from an experienced estate planning attorney, these types of situations can be minimized.
Below please find three reasons why having an estate plan is important:
You get to stay in control of your finances, even after you’ve passed away.
Anyone that has an estate plan can feel confident knowing that their wishes will be carried out. You can specify exactly how and when your heirs receive an inheritance. This can be particularly important for anyone who wants their inheritance to be delayed, perhaps for a young grandchild, a loved one dealing with a substance abuse issue or for an heir that may be going through a contentious divorce.
Maintaining your privacy.
Without a trust attached to your Last Will and Testament, your assets can become public information upon your passing. This situation occurs when your local probate court becomes involved with settling your estate. A well-drafted estate plan that includes a trust reduces the need for court involvement.
While privacy is important to all of us, you shouldn’t allow it to become an obstacle for your family. In your estate plan, compile a list of all of your updated passwords and account information. This list includes but is not limited to your bank accounts, phones, and emails. An estate plan will allow access to your loved ones upon your death or even disability. Failing to include this information may cause a delay in unlocking your accounts.
To protect yourself in case you become disabled.
Unfortunately, many of us will experience a disability of some kind before we die. Being proactive with an estate plan allows you to arrange exactly how a scenario that involves you being disabled will be handled. When you create a plan for disability, you ensure that the person you choose is in control of your assets. Otherwise, your property may be managed by the court as a legal guardian will be appointed who may not act in your best interest.
The Bottom Line
No price can be put on knowing that your family will be taken care of if you become incapacitated and when you ultimately pass. If you want to learn more about estate planning, please visit the Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher. We can help you prepare so that your legacy and your loved ones are protected.