October 21st – 27th is National Estate Planning Awareness Week, creating a time for all adults to reflect upon the importance of going through the estate planning process. A complete estate plan addresses disability during life and disposition of property at death. Every adult should have the following basic estate planning documents: will, financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney and living will declaration (if appropriate). The Family Wealth & Estate Planning Group at Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP can help you with all aspects of estate planning.
There are a great number of reasons why estate planning awareness is important — here are our top ten:
- Your minor children are counting on you to leave them in capable hands upon your demise. You need a will to designate a legal guardian for your minor children.
- Disability can strike at any moment. Designating a financial agent and a health care agent are key to minimizing the potential confusion and burden that may arise and serve to help you avoid a costly guardianship proceeding.
- Without an estate plan in place, you forfeit control and your assets may pass upon your death to beneficiaries to whom you do not intend to benefit. With a will and a trust (when necessary) in place, your property will pass to the people and causes you love.
- Probate avoidance is critical for the closely-held business owner. All aspects of the business should be kept out of the public record.
- Your children and other loved ones cannot handle money. Having a trust as part of your estate plan works to resolve this situation and many others.
- Your beneficiary is disabled, special needs or eligible for public assistance and requires special planning.
- Your assets exceed $11,400,000 and you will pay estate tax without engaging in advanced planning.
- You care deeply about a cause or charity. Estate planning can help you leave money to charity or create a foundation based on a charitable cause.
- Gifts in excess of $15,000 a year have tax consequences. Make sure you plan accordingly and contact an attorney before making a large gift.
- You desire to minimize the cost of distributing your assets. Avoid probate and your beneficiaries could have immediate access and control of their inheritance and without the need for much professional help.