ESTATE PLANNING 101
Estate Planning is vital to protect and provide for your loved ones should anything happen to you. Without your own, the state has a plan for you...one that doesn’t consider your wishes on how to provide for your family and certainly doesn’t minimize the fees and taxes the state will take off the top during a long, drawn-out probate process, eventually, giving what is left to your family who has been suffering emotionally and financially.
Therefore, setting forth your own estate plan will include fundamental elements to ensure that your family and friends; are given the proper authority to act for you (whether that be as your executor, attorney-in-fact, or health care agent), may care for your children (as a temporary or permanent guardian), and receive your assets (as a fiduciary to manage and delegate to children at the proper time or as a beneficiary).
It also encompasses leaving detailed information, instructions, and memories that will make an emotional time an easier transition period as you “speak” to your family and friends through the customized family plan you put in place.
Without an estate plan, when something happens to you, your family and friends are; left guessing what you would have liked and what they should do, may be left without the authority to do anything, and will have a difficult, expensive, and long road ahead of them to receive the assets from you that will help them maintain some of the most basic aspects of the life they had with you --- a home, food, support, and an education.
It is a process everyone knows they need to do, but many procrastinate. The problem with procrastinating is that if something does happen to you tomorrow, you are leaving yourself and your family to the whims of the state, who does not and cannot profess to know what is best for your family.
Our primary focus is to help parents like you ensure you are in the best position to protect and provide for your loved ones.
While you probably have short-term goals and plans for the family’s day-to-day lives, have you sat down to consider your long-term plans?
Estate planning encompasses a family’s long-term insurance, finances, and legal needs. While many believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy, it is most crucial for families with young children.
If anything were to happen to you, what would happen to your children?
Young children are helpless without their parents, emotionally and financially.
Who would take care of them?
What money would they have to live in their home or go to school?
Would they have memories of you, know the hopes and dreams you had for them?
An estate planning attorney at WLF will provide you with the tools you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones and hold your hand to put an estate plan in place. While you may not want to think about or believe that anything will ever happen to you, you most likely have health insurance if you get sick, auto insurance if you are in an accident, homeowner’s insurance for your home, and if your employer offers disability and life insurance you have probably signed up for it and are grateful to have it -- just in case.
So, why wouldn’t you put a similar plan in place for your children just in case something happens to you?
WLF will help you design, draft, and organize a custom family estate plan to place in a comprehensive and easy to understand manual that will act as a guide and a safety net to protect your family and those you entrust to help your family. You will then become part of our extended family and we promise to be your family’s trusted advisor for life. You are welcome to take advantage of our on-call service for any questions or issues that arise and you will receive complimentary plan reviews for life.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are some FAQs we have received. If you have another question, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer you and add the question to this list.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of putting your personal, family, and financial affairs in order. The goals of estate planning are: (1) to maximize enjoyment an individual’s estate during his or her lifetime; and (2) to maximize beneficiaries’ enjoyment of the estate after the individual’s death.
Is an estate plan necessary if I don't own much?
Proper estate planning requires an initial investment in lawyers’ fees, in addition to the time needed to collect information and meet with your lawyer. The return on this “investment” may be substantial. We recently calculated that the savings (from probate fees alone) for preparing the estate plan of a $1 Million gross estate resulted in at least a 920% return. At this rate of return, making an “investment” in proper estate planning should be a no-brainer!
Why shouldn't I just use DIY online forms to save money?
We don’t recommend it because the cost of improper planning is often higher than not planning at all. A few inadvertent errors we have come across include: accidental re-assessment of real estate, resulting in higher property taxes; failure to integrate non-probate assets with the estate plan; un-funded trusts, resulting in unnecessary probate proceedings; and out-dated or inappropriate estate tax planning techniques. Because the risks of “do-it-yourself” forms and kits are so high, we cannot recommend this approach.