What is estate planning?
Estate planning ensures that assets including home, investments, business, savings, life insurance, etc. will be distributed according to an individual’s wishes after his or her passing. An estate plan will also include strategies to minimize potential taxes and settlement costs. It can also include instructions regarding your healthcare wishes. Should you ever be unable to give the directives yourself, an estate plan allows you to establish a representative you trust to make them for you.
Why do I need an estate plan?
People often don’t complete estate planning, because they think they don’t have enough assets or that they will automatically go to their children upon their passing. However, if you do not designate how your estate is to be disbursed, its management becomes the purview of the state, which can result in not only higher estate taxes but also the wrong people inheriting your assets.
What happens if I pass away without an estate plan?
If you pass away without an estate plan, your estate goes into probate. Probate is a court supervised proceeding that can not only be expensive, but can also tie up assets for a long period of time before your beneficiaries receive them
What does my estate include?
Your estate includes:
- Your home
- Your business
- Your retirement accounts
- Your life insurance policies
- Any property or real estate you own
How do I name a guardian for my children?
If you have minor children, a guardian should be appointed over their person and property. While a surviving parent will automatically retain guardianship of any children under 18, it is advisable to appoint at least one alternate guardian in the event that the primary guardian is unable to fulfill his or her role.