Approximately 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. Without advanced planning, money and time can be lost. The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils “promotes education of financial and estate planning throughout the year” with October 18 to 24 serving as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.
No matter your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place. A plan ensures that your family and financial goals are met after you die. It includes a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will or health-care proxy (medical power of attorney). For some people, a trust also make sense.
Taking inventory of your assets is a good place to start. You should ask yourself three questions:
Whom do you want to inherit your assets?
Who will handle your financial affairs if you are incapacitated?
Who makes medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself?
A will tells the world exactly where you want your assets distributed when you die. It is also the best place to name guardians for your children. Dying without a will can be costly to your heirs and leaves you no say over who gets your assets. Even if you have a trust, you still need a will to take care of any holdings outside of that trust when you die.
Stop potential conflicts after you’re gone by discussing your estate plan with your heirs. For more information on estate planning, visit Estate Planning Answers.