For far too many families, estate planning and financial arrangements for interment and funerals are something dealt with at an old age or after being diagnosed with a serious illness. This, in turn, can leave families scrambling to adjust their budget to a reduced income while simultaneously facing the expenses involved in end of life care or emergency medical services if the death was the result of an unexpected accident.
By being proactive about estate planning, you can ensure that your loved ones will have the necessary resources and protections to continue providing for themselves in the event of your death or permanent incapacitation.
What is estate planning?
There are many components to a well-developed estate plan. It can include analyzing financial assets and obtaining adequate life insurance to make up any discrepancies between income and financial needs following the loss of one of the heads of the family. It can also include specific instructions for funerals, pre-payment of funerary expenses, and instructions on how to divide assets among the living members of the family. Estate planning ensures that you are not leaving the well-being and financial security of your loved ones to chance and protects them from needing to go through probate court to access your assets.
When should you being estate planning?
The ideal time to begin your estate planning is any time your family is changing. Estate planning, while not incredibly romantic, should be part of your pre-marital planning with your future spouse, if you are not already married. This allows you both to discuss your needs and wishes in the event of a sudden passing of either of you.
If you're already married (or have chosen to remain unmarried), but your family is growing by birth, adoption, or another happy event, it behooves the adults in the family to establish or adjust one's estate planning measures to include the new addition and any additional income requirements this may present for the family unit.
Don't put it off until it's too late
There are a lot of reasons why people delay estate planning. It can seem morbid or depressing to some, while others may worry that it is an unnecessary expense or that the estate will need be changed sooner rather than later. However, failing to create an estate plan can cause chaos for your family.
While we all hope to live long, happy lives, many people pass suddenly due to accidents, trauma, or medical issues such as stroke, heart attack, or embolisms. Estate planning gives you and your loved ones peace of mind, no matter what the future holds.
Working with an attorney can protect your family
Putting together a comprehensive and legally enforceable estate plan is a complex process. Poorly constructed estates may not stand up to legal scrutiny or may be challenged in court. For this reason alone, it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets from outside interests.
An experienced estate attorney will have the knowledge and contacts to help you in the process of planning for your family's future, whether or not you are still a part of your family.