“Estate planning can be morbid, and no one wants to think about the end of life during the holiday season. However, that's all the more reason to start planning now. We'd like to change your perspective on estate planning and we ask you to think of it as more of a gift than an obligation.”
As the Brainerd (MN) Dispatch reports in its story, “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season,” estate planning is a gift for your family in the form of peace of mind. By preparing for what will happen after you're gone, you can eliminate the stress and guilt of having to guess at the type of funeral service you want, where you want your assets to go and how they can honor your memory.
When you pass away, your family will be dealing with stress, pain and emotional hardships. If you fail to create a will or other legal documentation, the process for your family to access your assets will be long and expensive. The probate process can take many months and money to distribute assets to your spouse, children, and grandchildren.
Without a will, there's also no guarantee that your assets will pass as you intended. For example, if you have a stepchild you reared as your own or aren’t married but in a serious relationship when you die, then many states do not recognize that stepchild or your significant other. These individuals may not get any of your assets, because there's no legal documentation linking them to your estate.
Lifetime giving is a great way to see the money you are donating goes to good use. There are also tax deductions that go along with these gifts. You may not consider charitable giving as a part of your estate plan right now but discussing how much and when to give with your estate planning attorney, can decrease your taxable estate. That could result in more money for your family in the future.
If you do plan to leave a donation after you're gone, there are several options to accomplish this. You can create a trust, scholarship fund, or donor advised fund to leave a legacy of giving to the causes you support. Because there are so many options available, your estate planning attorney is your best resource to help you decide which course of action will fit your circumstances and best meet your needs.
There are a number of decisions to make, when preparing your estate plan. Nevertheless, the process shouldn't be difficult or intimidating. Your estate planning attorney knows you and your situation. She can help you take the next step and navigate the planning, by asking the right questions and guiding you along the way. In the end, you will know that you’ve set yourself and your loved ones up for success.
Reference: Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (December 8, 2018) “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season”