We typically hear the word “estate” and automatically associate it with the super wealthy. The truth is that most working families will likely benefit from having an estate plan in place. There are non-monetary things that can be taken care of via wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Here are five reasons why you should consider establishing an estate plan even if you’re not super wealthy.
If you have minor children, have you considered who would get custody of them if both you and your spouse were to die while the children are still young? With a proper estate plan in place, you can designate a guardian for your minor children. Otherwise, this will likely be determined by a judge if you die without a plan in place.
What if you became incapacitated and were unable to make your own healthcare decisions? You can use a power of attorney to designate someone to make decisions on your behalf, have access to your accounts, be able to pay your bills, etc. You can also specify end of life care wishes as well within your estate plan.
Some accounts give you the option of designating a beneficiary, which might be a better option than putting it in a trust, depending on your wishes. Review your IRAs, 401Ks, bank accounts, life insurance policies, etc. to make sure that you have assigned beneficiaries and that they are the beneficiaries that you intend. Life changes such as divorce, marriage, new children, etc. can change who you wish to put down as beneficiaries on certain assets, so be sure to review these at least annually and each time you have a life event.
We all hear about celebrities who die without a will or an estate plan in place and get to see how family members fight over money. By having an estate plan in place, you can avoid or at least significantly minimize your family fighting over who gets what. With a proper plan in place, you can provide some guidance as to how you want your assets distributed and avoid unnecessary fighting within your family.
If you die without an estate plan in place, your assets might be distributed according to state laws. This process known as “probate without a will” is a public process, which means anyone can find out how much money you left, and the process will likely take longer and it’ll be costlier to distribute your assets, which will reduce what’s left to be distributed as a result.
For more estate planning tips, be sure to listen to Episode 002 of my podcast, where I interview Matthew Winters, Esq. an estate and tax planning attorney who talks about the above covered topics and more.
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Investment Advisor Representative of Retirement Wealth Advisors Inc. (RWA), 89 Ionia NW, Suite 600, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (800) 903-2562. Investment Advisory Services are offered through RWA. Build a Better Financial Future and RWA are not affiliated.
This information is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered, it is not, however, intended to provide specific legal or tax advice. You are encouraged to consult your tax advisor or attorney.