What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about “estate planning” and “wills”? A polite person would probably say something like “protecting your assets” and “making sure my wishes are outlined properly in a will”. If this is your first thought, then that’s awesome and you’re ahead of the curve! But, let’s be honest, I’m sure most of us think about getting old and dying when we think about estate planning. Don’t worry, this is normal.
Because most of us associate estate planning with unpleasant thoughts like aging and death, we often don’t want to think about it. We try to put it off or feel that there is time down the road to deal with this stuff. I get it, we don’t want to think about getting old, but getting old is a part of life and we should embrace it whole-heartedly. Part of that includes estate planning. But, make no mistake, estate planning is not only for the aging, it’s for all of us.
As unsexy as estate planning may seem, making sure your estate is in order will only save you money, time and a headache down the road. Ensuring that you have properly put together estate plan, including an appropriate will, is going to make life easier for your loved ones when you pass away. Not having an estate plan, can lead to disasters! The following are the top 5 catastrophes that can occur when you don’t take the initiative to put together an estate plan.
1) The law decides for you
One of the many advantages of having a will is that it gives you the opportunity to clearly lay out how you want all your property and finances to be dealt with upon your passing. Estate planning allows YOU to control what happens to your money. If you don’t have a will and a properly thought out estate plan, everything you own at the time of your death may not be given to the people you want it to be given to. If you don’t have a will, the law will decide how all your possessions will be distributed. If you’re lucky, it will go to the right people. But, why take the risk? The law doesn’t know your specific circumstances, your family dynamics or what would have made you the happiest. You work hard all your life. Make sure your hard-earned money is given to the right people when you pass.
2) Fighting amongst the family
We regularly come across clients who tell us that their family members are not the type to fight about anything or be petty when it comes to their estate. And for the most of us, this is true. But, let me tell you, we have comes across situations where there have been arguments amongst family members regarding the deceased person’s estate. Part of estate planning is letting your loved ones know what your wishes are once you pass away. We strongly encourage you show your executors and beneficiaries your will while your living so that you can answer any questions and alleviate any concerns. Failing to estate plan and prepare ahead can lead to a lot of confusion for your loved ones when you pass away, which in turn can lead to arguments, and even worse, to going to court.
3) Not selecting your executor
Just like you won’t be able to have control over how your money is given if you don’t have a will, you also won’t be able to choose who has the power to administer your estate. Think about this? This is definitely something you want to avoid! Most of us pick someone as an executor who we trust, who we feel is capable of handling the task and who would know what our wishes would be in the event of any uncertainty. If we don’t have an estate plan and don’t have a will that appoints an executor, the office of the public guardian and trustee will end up making the decisions for you. The government doesn’t know you, so don’t make the mistake of not appointing your executor through a well-drafted will.
4) Not having enough money to pay your bills
Passing away is hardest for those you leave behind. This is even more true for the family you leave behind to deal with your estate. When we pass away, someone has to take care of our debts – our mortgages, credit cards and so on. If you do not have an adequate estate plan in place, you may not have enough money in your estate to pay all your bills. This can be a nightmare for your family. Make life easier for those you leave behind by giving us a call to assist you with your estate planning strategy.
5) Not taking advantage of money-saving strategies
The beauty of estate planning is all the tax saving strategies that you can use. By estate planning before your death, you can save money in a way that’s beneficial for your estate and beneficial for your spouse and children.
As you probably get by now, a will is the one of the most important parts of a good estate plan. By preparing a will and talking to us about different estate planning strategies that you can use, the reward for your estate and family members will be valuable. Give us a call so we can help you avoid the catastrophes of not having an estate plan.