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Do I Need an Estate Plan?

If you’re asking yourself that question, the answer is likely “yes.” Will the world end if you don’t have one? No, it won’t, but an estate plan is a valuable tool that can actually improve your quality of life. Most people, especially those with families, worry about what the future may hold. According to a study performed by Cognitive Therapy and Research, about 17% of worries involve anticipating negative future events. An estate plan may be one of the most effective ways to counteract these very natural concerns.

Can you put a price on having peace of mind knowing that, regardless of what happens tomorrow, your family will have the resources they need to maintain their quality of life? You may find yourself sleeping better at night knowing you have an established estate plan that details your wishes, ensuring you control what happens to your assets after you pass away.

What Does an Estate Plan Accomplish?

An effective estate plan does more than just dictate how you want your assets distributed once you’re gone. In addition to clearly communicating how debts and final expenses are paid and which of your beneficiaries get what, it may also include things like power of attorney, which names a person who can make decisions for you should you become unable to do so, and may even include health care directives to ensure certain decisions about your care are made according to your wishes, even if you are incapable of making those wishes known due to illness or injury.

If you have children under the age of 18 an estate plan should also include provisions regarding guardianship. People with trusts can even set aside funds or earmark life insurance payouts for things like college expenses.

Depending on your situation and your goals, an estate plan can also be designed to preserve your assets in such a way that they are insulated, as much as possible, from end-of-life taxes and fees.

You’ve likely heard stories about families whose pain over losing a loved one is compounded when they realize the deceased had extensive debt and not even a simple will to dictate their most basic wishes. Funerals, even basic cremation, can be a significant financial disruption if there aren’t assets put aside for those costs. The last thing anyone wants to do is further burden their cash-strapped family with end-of-life expenses. Luckily you can put aside money for funeral costs, debts and other potential fees.

Some people even take the extra step of preplanning and prepaying their funeral expenses, the instructions for which can be included in a will and other estate planning documents.

Estate plans can become quite complex, especially for families who have accrued significant wealth over the years. Receiving a large inheritance can sometimes, unfortunately, have a similar effect on people as winning the lottery. Sometimes money can cause more problems than it solves. Estates can be set up in such a way that money is distributed incrementally instead of in one lump sum. Estate plans can also be used to distribute assets to charitable or philanthropic organizations, enabling you to leave a legacy of positive impact on the causes that are near to your heart.

Is There Anyone Who Doesn’t Need an Estate Plan?

Don’t mistakenly assume that just because you’re not a senior or super wealthy you don’t need an estate plan. As previously discussed, estate plans can do a lot more than just distribute money. You may not be in a financial or family situation where you need an irrevocable living trust or a complex tax haven for your assets, but you still need some type of document to communicate your wishes to the probate court and whoever will be handling your funeral and other end-of-life arrangements.

Whether a basic will is all you need or you would benefit from a more complex living trust or a combination of estate planning tools is something your attorney can help you understand.

Learn About Your Estate Planning Options

If you’re in Grand Rapids, Norton Shores, Portage or elsewhere in greater Western Michigan and you would like to enjoy the peace of mind that a thorough estate plan provides, schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of David Carrier, P.C.

David is a respected estate planning attorney who is known for providing local workshops to help people better understand their estate planning options. He and his team put an emphasis on educating clients so they can make informed decisions regarding what will best serve their family. If you’d like to learn more call 1-800-317-2812 to speak with an estate planning professional.