Both the tools and concepts used in estate planning are unfamiliar to the average person. This often makes the idea of creating an estate plan an intimidating prospect. I find that the more people learn about the estate planning process, the more willing they are to get started on their own plan. An estate planning attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP answers five important estate planning questions.
- Do I really need an estate plan at my age? Although most people acknowledge the need for an estate plan – eventually – those same people frequently operate under the belief that they don’t need a plan yet. The rationale behind this belief is that you do not need an estate plan until you have amassed a valuable estate and/or until you have a family. The truth, however, is that every adult can benefit from an estate plan. True, the more assets you have the more important having an estate plan becomes; however, you undoubtedly want to be the one to decide what happens to the assets you do have in the event of your death. Likewise, while starting a family gives you an additional incentive to have an estate plan in place, it is by no means a prerequisite for the need for a plan.
- What should I include in my estate plan? Estate planning is a highly personal endeavor. Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two estate plans are exactly the same. As such, there are no basic requirements for an estate plan. There are, however, some common components found in most plans, such as:
- Last Will and Testament
- Advanced directives (Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney)
- Incapacity planning
- Funeral and burial plan
- Medicaid planning
- How often should I review my plan? Creating an estate plan is important; failing to review and revise that plan can be worse than not having a plan in the first place. There are no hard and fast rules for how often a routine review should take place. Most estate planning attorneys advise you to review your plan every three to five years during your working years and then every five to seven years thereafter. In addition, certain life events call for an immediate revision of your plan, such as a divorce, death, move to another state, or major change in assets.
- Should I tell my family the details of my plan? This is a personal decision that only you can make. There are good reasons to do so. If you anticipate that heirs or beneficiaries will be surprised and/or upset with the terms of your plan, it is better to explain ahead of time what they should expect if you wish to limit the likelihood of challenges to your Will.
- Do I really need a lawyer to create a Will? It is tempting in today’s electronic age to rely on forms found on the internet when it comes time to create your Last Will and Testament. However, doing so greatly increases the odds of litigation when it comes time to probate your estate. Ultimately, the time and money you may save by going the DIY route will likely end up costing your loved ones considerably more time and money down the road. In addition, using a DIY form to create your Will can result in unintended consequences given the fact that an attorney will not be part of the creation of the document. The bottom line is that creating your Will is not the time to try and cut corners.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.