ESTATE PLANNING: DEFINING GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS
Goals and expectations for a person’s estate will vary greatly from case to case. A good starting point, before you even inventory your assets, is to determine what you want your estate to achieve upon your passing. The most obvious purpose is to be certain that you know what assets and property are going and to whom they will go. But frequently an estate will be complicated, or involve specific assets that must be handled carefully and properly in order to make sure an estate is executed properly.
It’s the smaller, more niche details of an estate that require comprehensive knowledge and guidance to accomplish properly. Very few people preparing an estate realize how much court costs, fees, taxes, and expenses can cut into the value of their estate. One of the first things an estate planning attorney will consider is how to properly minimize the costs of these aspects of the probate process once your estate goes into effect.
GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS: TOUGH CHOICES IN LIFE AND DEATH
Equally important to after- life expectations are those that you should have when considering your comfort and preferences while living. How much care do you want from medical personnel in the event that you’re incapable of deciding for yourself? Do you want to be treated with every possible means to maintain life, or do you prefer to allow nature to takes its course? These are considerations that few make, but all should be making. Your comfort and peace as life runs its course are invaluable and will offer your family the same peace of mind you take from the preparations.
As life does inevitably run its course, how do you want to be remembered? Do you prefer to be buried, or cremated, or other means? This is a decision made and expressed through planning an estate. Those without a planned estate will be at the mercy of their family to make the decision for them. Details for post- life remembrance can also be dictated through a planned estate, such as a scattering of ashes or a specific plot in a burial ground. Details are important in these circumstances.
GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS: MINORS AND SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
Those with minor children should be particularly astute and prepared when it comes to their estate. The unthinkable happens far too often, and in the event of an unexpected parents’ death a process begins to appoint guardianship to their minor children. Parents can pre- designate in their estate who they wish to appoint as guardians of their children should such an accident occur. It’s not fun to think about, but at worst a planned estate involving minor children will at least bring assurance that the kids will go to individuals that will care for them and expect to in such a circumstance.
Often overlooked are those who have special needs children or loved ones. It is particularly tricky when it comes to planning the estate of a family with special needs family members. Whether someone is a minor or an adult, a son/ daughter or relative, specific considerations must be included in the planned estate to be certain a special- needs relative is cared for properly. Guardianship may be necessary for the individual even as an adult, meaning that the window of time that the estate must be ready and up to date is significantly extended.
Least important, but still worth considering, is the cost of guardianship appointment if done through probate. A planned estate will save the family a significant amount of money by pre- designating guardianship for both minors and special needs individuals. Guardianship process done without a planned estate is costly both in money and time, and could put additional stress both on the children and family left figuring it out.
GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS: BUSINESS ASSETS AND CHARITY
Estate planners owning businesses should also highly consider planning their estate as soon as possible. Businesses owned by someone planning their estate can be considered assets and can be handed down or delivered according to the last will and testament. The last thing anyone owning a business wants is for it to fail because it was mismanaged or not wanted. Be certain that your businesses pass on to those who will continue your work the way you want it done once you’re no longer in charge.
Similar to businesses as assets is the consideration of charity. Many people contribute during their lives to charities, churches, and countless other organizations. A planned estate can ensure that this generosity can continue by designating portions of the estate to donation. The impact in society that someone makes doesn’t have to be over just because they’ve passed, and such a legacy can be cemented by your estate.
GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS: STARTING AND STAYING UP TO DATE
Everything covered above is just a fraction of the common goals and expectations when it comes to planning your estate. The intention of providing this information is to express the value and importance of a properly considered and prepared estate. A person’s values in life can change and expand as time passes. Even those who have a planned estate would do well to re- examine it somewhat frequently. Changes can be made at any point.
Goals for your estate may vary greatly than those for another estate. The best first step is to simply meet with an estate planning attorney to help be certain your wishes and desires will be met as you expect them to be. We look forward to working with you and planning your estate.