Making an estate plan involves more than just planning our “final affairs” in anticipation of our death. An estate plan is a tool used to manage your estate and financial affairs while you are living, not just after you pass. A good estate plan is an important tool for your loved ones and a valuable gift you can give them now, that will have benefits for years to come.
Many people put off making an estate plan for a variety of reasons. Some think they do not have estates large enough to require a plan; some do not know how they want to distribute their assets. Others find it uncomfortable to contemplate one’s own death. This, however, is not the focus of an estate plan when working with our experienced attorneys. Our attorneys believe that you are not planning for your own death but planning for your life.
In creating a comprehensive estate plan, you are helping your family now, in writing, in the event you are not later available to help them in person. Because death is not the only event that can keep us from our families, a complete estate plan guides your doctors and loved ones in caring for you and your assets if you are ever unable to do so yourself. Our experienced attorneys will work with you to understand powers of attorney, advanced medical directives, wills, trusts and other available planning tools, and whether each is important for you and your needs.
What is the risk of not making an estate plan for yourself? You and your family will be limited to the options, and the related expenses, that Virginia has made for you. If you cannot make your own decisions and have not planned in advance, your family will have to petition the court to obtain guardianship and the authority to manage your money. Not only is this costly, it can take time to achieve. It can also add additional levels of reporting that further waste your assets. Most importantly, though, the state will not give your loved ones advise as to what the right decision is for you.
For many families, finding and making the “right” decision for mom or dad is a source of great frustration and division. Through making an advanced plan, you can make the decision for yourself, relieving your family of this responsibility and burden. Similarly, creating a will can help to prevent divisive arguments over your belongings.
Some clients may benefit from more advanced estate planning. Planning for a child with special needs, protecting assets from creditors, and transferring wealth while minimizing tax implications are just some of the benefits that advanced estate planning can achieve.
Whether you think you need a simple will or complex, tax-sensitive estate planning, setting an appointment to learn more is the easy, first step. Remember, if you do not want to make the decision for yourself and your family, then you are accepting the plan, rules, and expenses that the state has already made for you.