Estate planning is a way to pass your assets on to the next generation, but it also goes far beyond that. It is a complex and wide-ranging plan for the end of your life, and it may address things like medical care, taxes, financial decisions, business ownership and much more. It all depends on your specific situation.
Unfortunately, most people don’t have an estate plan. This can be very problematic. Let’s look at three of the major issues that come up if you pass away without a plan.
Your heirs are more likely to get into a dispute
First and foremost, your heirs have no guidance if you do not leave them an estate plan. This increases the odds that they’re going to get into a dispute. Two heirs may both insist that they should get the same asset, for example, or your heirs may not be able to figure out what to do with a joint asset, like a family home that was left to all of them. Simply writing a will is the best thing you can do to avoid an estate dispute.
You could pay too much in taxes
Estate planning can also help you reduce the tax burden of the estate. Remember that your heirs are not going to be personally responsible for the taxes that you owe, but the estate administrator does have to pay these taxes out of your estate before distributing the remaining assets to everyone else. Ensuring that your estate plan takes care of the tax burden in advance can help your heirs go through this process more smoothly and retain more of the assets you left for them.
You don’t know who makes decisions when you can’t
Another big benefit of having an estate plan is that you can use powers of attorney to decide who makes your financial or medical decisions if you’re unable to do so. You can never predict exactly what will happen in the future or if you will become incapacitated at some point. Knowing that you have an agent selected to make important choices on your behalf can give you peace of mind. It can also help your family because it gives them more direction regarding what you would have wanted.
If you are interested in making an estate plan, be sure you know exactly what steps you can take to get everything set up.