Many times, in conversations with family, friends, or potential clients, I am asked why an estate plan is important. The reasons are varied and personal. Here are the five of the reasons I hear in these conversations about the importance and purpose for estate planning.
- I WANT PEACE OF MIND. You work hard to build your live and provide for your family and children. But when it comes to thinking about what ifs, the anxiety arises. For parents with young children, what if the plane crashes on our trip? For parents of children who have been fighting as adults, what will happen if I am not here to make the peace? For parents of children with addictions, how do I prevent them from spending all the inheritance on drugs? The questions that keep people up at night are numerous as the stars in the sky, but the solution is simple: prepare and plan. A properly prepared estate plan can ease the anxiety of what ifs. It can even resolve conflicts over your funeral.
- WHO WILL CARE FOR MY CHILDREN? This is a question that troubles most parents. The struggles over choosing who will raise your children after both parents have passed range from not wanting to offend family members to trusting that a chosen person will be the right person for the child. The easiest solution is often to consider the age of the party, the distance from where you live, and does your child know this person. It is serious conversation to have with your intended guardian.
- I WANT TO PROTECT MY CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE. This is a question we hear with blended families. As families are divorcing, moving and remarrying, the blended family is real issue. Blended families need to consider how will all the children be treated. My family is a blended family, and we have decided to treat all the children as if they were our children together. But other families choose to keep things separate and provide for the children. With families with his, hers, and ours, the planning needs further consideration. The biggest factor for blended families is trusting that your spouse will not change the estate plan after the death of the first spouse to die.
- YOU DECIDE WHAT YOUR FUTURE (AND YOUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE) WILL LOOK LIKE. Terry Schiavo is the case that is often discussed in my office. It is what prompted me to prepare an estate plan. While thinking ahead to scenarios of being on life support long-term, dying with young children, or developing dementia scares everyone, being able to control what will happen when or if that happens is reassuring. When I was a single mother, I had prepared but not signed an estate plan shortly before I was involved in a near-fatal car accident. While I was conscious to think to tell the first responder to the scene to tell my daycare that I would be late (seriously, I was hit head-on by a semi-tractor and merely thought I would be a few hours late picking up my children), I did not think to rely who to call to retrieve my children. I had not shared this information with the child care provider. But fortunately, my designated guardians knew I had chosen them and heard about my accident on the radio. I could recover knowing that my children were safe, well-cared for, and comforted during this time. Having that peace affected the speed of my recovery as I was not worrying about things that I could not change from the hospital bed easily.
- AVOID PROBATE. Probate is the process of having the court supervise the authentication of your will, valuing your estate assets, distributing your assets to beneficiaries and heirs, and paying creditors in the right order. Probate can take time, sometimes a year or longer depending on the size of your estate and the amount of fighting amongst beneficiaries. Probate is also stressful on your family and for most grieving family members, they need the assistance of a probate attorney to help them navigate the paperwork and process. While many people believe that executing a will avoids probate, this is not the case. A will is a ticket to the probate court. Avoiding probate requires creating a revocable trust or similar assets, creating joint ownership in assets, or contractually disposing of assets upon your death, this is typically beneficiary designations or pay on death accounts.
If you are worried about the future will look like the day after you pass away, call Michigan Gun Law today, we will help you look to the future and make decisions today that will create peace at your family’s time of grief.