The true value of creating an estate plan comes in many forms. For some people, the value comes in the most obvious way: through direct gifts of property to our family members when we die. For some, the value comes in making sure someone is legally empowered to make decisions for them when they are in the hospital, travelling abroad, or otherwise unable. Personally, I think that there is another form of value to be found in estate planning: the value of giving a gift of guidance, intention, and values to friends and family who survive you.
THE ACT OF CREATING AN ESTATE PLAN IS AN ACT OF GIVING.
I am not referring to the possible transfer of assets to our loved ones when we die, but to the relief of guilt, confusion, and anxiety by making our intentions known in writing to those people we leave behind. The difficult situations we face — and the tough decisions we make — no longer fall to our loved ones.
Estate planning documents allow us to designate who will receive property from us when we die, and how they will receive it. The most common and urgent example is creating a plan that sets aside assets passing to minor children. The assets can be invested and managed for the minor children, used to pay for health care and education, with the rest given to the children when they have grown into responsible adults. This tool is called a testamentary trust, and can be created right in your will or revocable trust document.
Estate planning documents are also critical to protect us from severe and permanent disruption to our business and finances during incapacity. While many people see the primary purpose of estate planning as controlling how their estate is distributed, for those with small businesses and complex day-to-day asset management, the incapacity planning side of estate planning can be incredibly important. This is done with your health care directive and power of attorney documents (though there may be more involved, depending on the complexity of your plan!).
If you are aware of possible conflicts or family dynamics that could flare up as a result of your death, it is even more important to make your wishes and intentions known by communicating them to your family during your life and after your death; your estate plan is your means of doing this.
IT IS IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO CREATE AN ESTATE PLAN AND KEEP IT UPDATED.
Through this process we are able to remove a big burden on our loved one when we die. Removing many legal issues and decisions from the picture allows the people who survive us to focus on coming together, grieving, and processing.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help you identify any issues with your family or your assets that an estate plan can help put to rest. When done properly, your estate plan will be a gift to both yourself and your family. We are here to help; contact us today at 612.345.7496.