Almost everyone can benefit from an estate plan. “Estate Plan” is a general term for Wills, Trusts,Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills — all the legal documents you need to plan for your own death orpossible disability. Estate planning and tax planning should not be postponed. Even if you will not paytaxes, the most important goals of estate planning are not tax-driven but personally motivated. These goals include:
- Controlling who handles your assets if you become disabled.
- Controlling who handles your assets when you are deceased.
- Controlling who receives your property and assets (children, beneficiaries, charities).
- Controlling who will not receive your property and assets (the IRS, an estranged relative, an exspouse,etc).
- Controlling when beneficiaries receive assets. (For example, having a child receive assets atage 25 or 30 instead of age 18.)
- Avoiding unnecessary probate court proceedings (and the related delay, burden, and attorneyfees).
- Avoiding unnecessary guardianship proceedings if you become disabled so that your family canlegally manage your assets, rather than having them tied up. (For example, a spouse cannot sellthe couple’s home because the other spouse is in a coma and cannot sign the legal papersnecessary for a real estate closing. A court order appointing the spouse as legal guardian isrequired.) A Financial Power of Attorney makes such a court proceeding unnecessary.
- Avoiding unnecessary guardianship proceedings if you become disabled so that your family canlegally make decisions regarding health care, including decisions about life support and nursinghomes. A Health Care Power of Attorney is needed to avoid court proceedings. Appointing a guardian for minor children if both parents die before the children are adults.