There is this show I’ve been watching on Netflix called Heir Hunters, and it chronicles 30 research companies in the UK who race to locate surviving heirs when someone dies without a will. The research companies get a commission if they can locate the heirs. It’s a lucrative business in the UK because according to the statistics on the show, roughly 2/3 of Brits die without a will.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us of the fragility of life, and how we should also set things in place to protect what matters most to us.
One of the best ways we can fight to do that is to take the seemingly-inconvenient step of establishing good plans for whatever might come. Just as you would want to have emergency plans in place for your household should immediate disaster strike, it’s very important to have plans in place for our loved ones and most precious possessions (children, spouse, home, finances).
You may be asking yourself, what is estate planning? This is a great question to explore and get a strategy in place for. In fact, there are six reasons (at least!) that all of my clients should have some kind of estate plan in place, and do it this year…
What Is Estate Planning? Six Good Reasons Everyone Should Have An Estate Plan In America
“There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love.” – Shmuley Boteach
Many well-meaning (and very loving) parents haven’t yet established an estate plan. That is a sad reality.
Yes, perhaps they’ve downloaded a fill-in-the-blank will from a software service, but unfortunately, with many situations, these don’t cover every important component of your wishes.
Or, they may rationalize that they are too young or don’t have enough money to reap the benefits of a plan.
Many of my clients have already made proper preparations, but I’m aware that YOU might be reading this and have not yet set this up.
Well, here are six good reasons that EVERYONE should have a good estate plan…
1) Loss of capacity. What if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs? Without a plan the courts will select the person to manage your affairs. With a plan, you pick that person (through a power of attorney).
2) Minor children. Who will raise your children if you die? Without a plan, a court will make that decision. With a plan, you are able to nominate the guardian of your choice.
3) Blended families. What if your family is the result of multiple marriages? Without a plan, children from different marriages may not be treated as you would wish. With a plan, you determine what goes to your current spouse and to the children from a prior marriage or marriages.
4) Keeping assets in the family. Would you prefer that your assets stay in your own family? Without a plan, your child’s spouse may wind up with your money if your child passes away prematurely. If your child divorces his or her current spouse, half of your assets could go to the spouse. With a plan, you can set up a trust that ensures that your assets will stay in your family and, for example, pass to your grandchildren.
5) Retirement accounts. Do you have an IRA or similar retirement account? Without a plan, your designated beneficiary for the retirement account funds may not reflect your current wishes and may result in burdensome tax consequences for your heirs (although the rules regarding the designation of a beneficiary have been eased considerably). With a plan, you can choose the optimal beneficiary.
6) Avoiding probate. Without a plan, your estate may be subject to delays and excess fees (depending on the state), and your assets will be a matter of public record. With a plan, you can structure things so that probate can be avoided entirely.
I do hope you carefully consider this. And if you’d like a recommendation for a good estate planning solution, I’m glad to offer that to you. Just shoot me an email by clicking the email button in the upper corner of this page.
Most of all, I’m grateful for your trust, and for your referrals.
David C. Zubler
Your Tax Care