Estate Planning: a primer
I don’t own any property, so I don’t need to plan for my estate.
I’m too young to need a will.
I don’t have anything of value to pass on to others.
I’ll have time later on to make those decisions.
Paying an attorney to be able to give my own stuff away is a waste.
Estate Planning often produces these kinds of reactions in people, whether or not they have experience in this area of law. We are glad for the opportunity to talk about some of these common misconceptions and to talk specifically about ideas for your own estate planning.
Do I have an Estate?
Yes. Everything you own is your “estate.” This is your car, your house, your checking and savings accounts, life insurance, any investments, your furniture, all your pens and pencils, all of it.
Why do I need to plan?
Take a moment to think about your estate. Not just the big stuff, like your house and your cars. Also think about every drawer, file, and storage container you own. Think about the hallway closet full of collectible action figures you’ve been meaning to clean out for the past three years. Think about the section of the garage that holds stuff you can’t seem to throw away but also haven’t touched since you moved into the house. Think about the bottom drawer of your desk that contains all the possible important documentation you’ve every kept. Think about the junk drawers. And then think about who would be responsible for cleaning up that mess if you were to suddenly not be around anymore.
That is why everyone should estate plan. Estate planning is not for you. Sure, it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that what you pass on will go to the right people. But really, it’s a gesture of kindness for your loved ones who will be the responsible parties after you pass on. It will provide family members with instructions for passing on your estate, so they do not need to take it upon themselves to make those decisions. And ultimately, your estate planning will minimize any kind of taxes or legal fees that come along with the transfer of property.
I’m too young to plan my estate.
No, you’re not. If you have possessions and don’t want the headache to be left to your loved ones if you were to suddenly die, starting to plan your estate is a wise decision. The more organized you are early on, the easier estate planning will be. One of the biggest perks of estate planning while you’re still alive is that it forces you to organize your records. Wouldn’t it be nice if just for once come tax season, all your paperwork was already in order?
It’s ridiculous that I need to pay someone to give away my own things.
Attorney’s fees exist. But, knowing that you have a plan in place prepared by a professional that will protect yourself and your family in the long run means that you don’t have to think about it. Everything is taken care of, and you can rest easy knowing that you have been thoughtful and considerate to yourself and your family in what will be a very difficult time.
If anything we’ve discussed so far has piqued in your interest into estate planning, let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics of gifting. Read on to for the best ideas on how to gift money, insurance, cars, or land.