October 15-21, 2012 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. The country-wide campaign focuses on educating individuals about the importance of planning their estates, and the risks they face if they have not yet created an estate plan. This is a time to carefully review your situation and start basic planning, or to review your existing estate plan and make sure it reflects your current assets and wishes for yourself, aging parents and dependents.
Estate planning is important for everyone at all levels of income and net worth. In the spirit of the annual National Estate Planning Awareness Week, the estate planning attorneys at TrustCounsel have prepared a list of three key benefits of protecting your assets.
- Protect your loved ones. Without an estate plan, financial disputes may occur and property distribution among your heirs could be delayed in probate for long periods of time. If family members were dependent on you financially, this could leave them in a stressful situation. Even with a will these issues can occur. With a comprehensive estate plan you are assured that not only your assets are protected and will be distributed as you desire, but that your family will be protected as well.
- Save money. Liquid funds, retirement savings, real estate and businesses you own are all assets that will be left to your heirs. Last year the US Trust compiled a survey and discovered 40% of individuals do not have a comprehensive estate plan, and only 3% of business owners have a succession plan in place. Taxes on retirement benefits and IRAs can exceed 50% for some heirs. Providing for the proper disposition of all your assets in an estate plan will help avoid unnecessary taxes.
- Save stress. Reducing family conflict was the number one reason individuals created an estate plan, reported by Wealth Counsel, a resource provider for estate planning lawyers around the country. An estate plan can help ensure your future comfort by securing funding for your own senior care. According to Forbes, 120 million Americans live with chronic illnesses, and the same number of people do not have updated estate plans. By establishing powers of attorney and protecting your assets, you will be able to reduce your family’s stress as well as your own by having a solid plan for long term care or assisted living.