By Associate Attorney Danielle Nodar
National Estate Planning Awareness Week runs from October 19 through 25th and was created in order to increase public awareness about the importance of estate planning for financial and personal wellness. According to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, it is estimated that 56% of Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan! In honor of this week, we are reminding you of the importance of having an estate plan in place and working with an estate planning attorney to create a plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.
There are many myths associated with estate planning that can be answered and addressed if you work with an estate planning attorney. Some of these include:
These myths, coupled with the discomfort that often accompanies thinking about incapacity and death, prevents many people from prioritizing their estate plan. However, by working with an estate planning attorney, you can address these concerns, gain control over an incontrollable life event, and leave with the peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away.
The purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain your financial security during your lifetime and create a plan for transferring your property at your death. A good estate plan considers a variety of circumstances unique to each person, including family dynamics, overall assets and debts, and the costs associated with transferring assets at death. Estate planning goes beyond making decisions relating to where your property goes when you pass away. It also includes naming individuals who will help implement your plans when you pass away, such as naming the executor who will administer the probate of your estate, a trustee who will manage property for the benefits of your named beneficiaries, or a guardian who will have custody and care of any minor children. Comprehensive estate planning also creates a plan for who will take care of you in the event that you become incapacitated during your lifetime. This includes naming agents under a durable power of attorney who will act in your place as to financial, business, and legal decisions if you are no longer able to manage your affairs and naming an agent under a healthcare power of attorney who will make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot speak for yourself. There are even ways to make plans for end-of-life medical decision-making in the event that you do not want life support if you are suffering from serious or terminal medical conditions.
Even if you have an estate plan in place, you should meet with your estate planning attorney every three to five years to review any life changes or changes in the law. Some reasons to update an estate plan are major life changes or changes in circumstances or assets, including factors like births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illness or disability, or even moving to a new state.
Thus, in honor of National Estate Planning Awareness Week, we want to remind everyone of the importance of creating and reviewing your estate plan to plan for your future and the future of your loved ones. If you have questions about creating an estate plan or potential revisions to your existing estate plan, please call Jesson & Rains!
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