The Value of Estate Planning: October Is Devoted To Promoting Estate Planning Awareness
The value of estate planning cannot be overstated.
I’m thrilled that I’m not alone in making every effort to educate my clients and anyone who will listen to the importance of having an estate plan. My efforts increase significantly during the month of October, particularly during the week of October 18 – 24 which is the official National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Here at the Estate & Asset Protection Law Firm, we have scheduled several events throughout the month to help raise awareness and encourage everyone to establish an estate plan.
Estate Planning Is Commonly Misunderstood
Even though this is one of life’s most important ways of ensuring your hard-earned assets get to those you want to have them, there are still so many people who misunderstand estate planning and the value of estate planning. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have heard the following and so many more:
- I’m too young to have an estate plan.
- All my property is titled in joint tenancy with my spouse so I don’t need a will.
- Estate planning is only for the super-rich.
- Estate planning is too complicated and expensive.
- We did our wills right after we got married 30 years ago and see no need for further planning.
Maybe these statements sound familiar to you. Maybe you’ve said them out loud or thought them to yourself. Let me assure you, estate planning and asset protection is not just for the super-rich. Nor is it just for people who are “old.” It’s for anyone that has assets they want to pass on to heirs, friends, or charities.
Three Essential Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs
No matter if you’re 18 or 80, there are three essential estate planning documents everyone needs: A Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. An estate plan can and often does include a Trust. Trusts speak for all matters related to asset distribution and therefore bypass the probate process (when properly funded) entirely, thus saving your beneficiaries thousands of dollars.
The reason younger people are taught the value of estate planning and encouraged to create an estate plan is that today, young people have digital assets including music, art, photography, films, etc., that may be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
They own vehicles and homes and businesses. Age is no barrier to wealth creation. On a more traditional note, if you are employed and have created an IRA and a level of comfortable living that you would like your children or a specific person or charity to enjoy upon your passing, estate planning is essential, no matter how young or old you happen to be. In other words, the purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain the financial security of individuals through their lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets at death, while taking into consideration the unique circumstances of the family and the potential costs of different methods. Estate plans must be reviewed regularly and updated when any big events occur, like a divorce, the death of a spouse or a beneficiary or the birth of a child.
What Happens If You Don’t Have An Estate Plan
Simply put, without an estate plan, all of your important decisions about what to do with your assets, children, health, and more, are left up to your local state courts or family to decide what should be done after your passing. If you are incapacitated in the hospital, an estate plan would be used to follow your specific wishes for what type of pain management, medical care, or end-of-life care you would prefer. Without an estate plan, it would be up to your spouse, parents, or adult children to make these decisions. It typically depends on who is most available to answer the call! Even then, your family might not have the same medical wishes for you, which can cause a massive amount of stress and strain in the family.
An estate plan is the vehicle you use to make important decisions about your finances, other assets, healthcare and more without burdening your family members or giving the state the power to make these decisions once you are gone.
If you are 18 years of age or older and would like to discuss creating an estate plan, give my office a call at 404-370-0696. Estate plans are important for everyone.
Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!