What happens to your life’s savings after you die is an unpleasant thought to some and a deferrable one to others. History, however, suggests that estate planning is essential to ensuring a legacy that remains unmarred by unnecessary contention or stress. For these reasons and more, consider making estate planning a priority for your family.
1. Avoid Family Quarrels
Most people have heard countless cautionary tales of families torn apart by outdated or nonexistent estate plans. When left with no directions, family members may disagree over who deserves what, sometimes going so far as to put matters in the hands of the law.
Without an estate plan, courts are left to make decisions with the limited information they have, leaving relatives stressed and disgruntled. Having a thorough, updated estate plan can prevent the kind of drama from which many families never recover.
2. Prevent Excessive Taxing
All elements of an estate are subject to federal and state taxes when passed to beneficiaries, and as those payments are usually detracted from the estate’s overall value, they can substantially deplete an estate’s funds.
Having a strong estate plan can lower owed taxes, meaning more money and assets find their way into your family’s hands.
3. Designate Beneficiaries
Perhaps the primary reason most people look into estate planning is to protect their children, heirs, or other beneficiaries from facing any issues with their inheritance. When someone fails to designate any beneficiaries, their estate becomes property of the court, so families have no legal claim to any of the estate’s assets.
Even if you feel your estate is worth little, your family may want to hold onto your possessions for the sentimental value. Alleviate their stress by planning ahead, no matter how small or simple your estate may be.
4. Protect Children
Although it’s a thought that no one wants to contemplate, an untimely death can leave children with not only no place to call home but also no guardians. By planning your estate as soon as possible, you ensure that your dependents will be cared for by someone of your choosing.
It’s also imperative to entrust your home to your children if you wish for them to remain there after your death. Otherwise, it goes to the court along with the rest of your property.
5. Support Your Spouse
As with young children, your spouse may be left in a stressful, vulnerable position if your death precedes estate planning. In many states, the assets and property of a deceased person do not automatically pass to the living spouse. Other family members may claim the estate, or the courts may decide that a spouse has no legal right to the estate. You can also save your spouse the anxiety that comes with post-death planning by having all of your preferences laid out in an estate plan.
Estate planning is not everyone’s preferred topic of conversation, but it’s one that should be made a priority whenever possible. No matter the scale of your estate, planning allows relatives to focus on grieving their lost loved ones instead of drowning in arguments and court fees.
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