Many of us feel like we don’t have enough assets to do any fancy estate planning. In fact the words “estate planning” feel completely irrelevant to many people, as they imply that you must own enough assets to call it an estate … and much of our wealth is hidden in things that really aren’t available until our death.
So what is estate planning? Estate planning is simply the preservation and distribution of whatever you own, both during your lifetime and after your death. It is accomplishing your personal and family goals and easing the management of your financial and legal affairs, as well as minimizing taxes. When we talk about your estate, we simply mean all things of any value that you own, including real estate, business interests, investments, life insurance, and even your personal property.
An estate plan includes the way your estate is passed on to your loved ones at the time of your death. It can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including Revocable Living Trusts, Wills, Joint Tenancy, and Beneficiary Designations. Problems happen when people don’t coordinate all of these methods of passing on their estate. An estate plan ensures that whatever you own goes to whom you want, when you want, and is carried out in the way you want. With the right estate plan, you can even keep your family out of probate court.
Estate planning may also include planning in case you become incapacitated, including health care directives. One of the biggest concerns today is that we will end up in a nursing home and lose all of our assets paying for it. While long-term care insurance (LTCi) is the best way to cover these costs, a good attorney can also help you plan to maximize your money in the event you don’t have sufficient LTCi to cover all of our needs. Medicaid Planning and Veterans’ Benefits Planning can help stretch your dollars.
The most important element of a good estate plan is information! Make sure you work with a qualified estate planning attorney. A good attorney can help preserve the value of your assets and that they pass the way you want. Don’t wait, get your estate plan done today!
Editor’s Note: Article written and submitted by Catherine Hammond, founder of Hammond Law Group. She may be reached at 719.520.1474