Your life is a remarkable journey filled with unforgettable moments that define who you are as a person. Amidst the countless shared experiences with friends and family, it’s easy to focus on the here and now. But there’s a chapter of life that we all must consider – one where we’re not present to guide and support our loved ones.
No one wants to picture a world without them; however, planning for this scenario is one of the most generous tasks you can undertake for those you love. It provides peace of mind, direction, and comfort, knowing your intentions will echo through the years - offering guidance when others need it most.
What is Estate Planning?
People commonly assume estate planning is only for the wealthy. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Estate planning is the process of deciding how one’s personal assets will be managed and distributed upon their death. It can also include your wishes while still living if you’re unable to care for yourself. More importantly, it can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones – ensuring a smooth transition of your final wishes.
Your Estate Planning Checklist:
Estate planning can involve a variety of legal and financial tools. Some of the most common components of an estate plan include the following:
- Last Will: Your will is a legal document that outlines who will inherit your assets, including personal property and financial accounts. If you have dependent children, you can also assign a guardian to care for them in your absence.
- Living Will: Not to be confused with your “Last Will,” a Living Will details your wishes toward future medical care if you cannot communicate them yourself. For example, if you’re in an accident and placed on life support, your living will can provide direction to your family members about your preferred medical care.
- Beneficiaries: A beneficiary is the person or persons you designate to have access to your financial accounts should you pass away. Generally, people will list their spouse or children as beneficiaries to avoid lengthy legal proceedings like probate.
- Living or Revocable Trust: A trust is a separate, legal entity that manages assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can help avoid probate and distribute assets for specific purposes, such as education.
- Powers of Attorney: A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows someone else to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. There are two common powers of attorney: Financial and Healthcare. A Financial POA allows the individual of your choosing to help manage your finances. A Healthcare POA enables medical decisions to be made for you.
- Letter of Intent: While a letter of intent is not legally binding, it can provide direction to those you love. For example, you might detail funeral arrangements or designate specific sentimental items to be gifted to an individual or charity.
3 Benefits of Estate Planning:
While estate planning isn’t the most enjoyable task, it provides invaluable direction and security for those you love.
- Accurate Distribution of Assets:
It’s never pleasant to think about family conflicts arising from one’s passing, but they do happen. Additionally, creditors can find their way into the mix. Estate planning helps to ensure a clear distribution of your assets in the manner of your choosing and prevents misunderstandings.
Parents want nothing but the absolute best for their children. A legal and proper estate plan will ensure your minor dependents are placed in the care of the individual or persons you choose. It will also provide your children with financial security through any life insurance policies or other financial accounts left to them.
The passing of a loved one will be an emotional and stressful moment for family members. By providing direction and detailing your desires, those you love will know they are making the right decisions on your behalf. The more guidance you provide, the easier it will be for your family to ensure your legacy lives on in the manner you saw fit.
We’re Here to Help!
Estate planning is vital to ensure your loved ones are cared for upon your passing. The process typically involves professionals, such as financial advisors and attorneys. If you have questions about your accounts or would like to review your account beneficiaries, we’re prepared to help.