Every day, bad things happen to good people. No one wants to think about themselves or a loved one being involved in a serious accident, becoming physically or mentally disabled, contracting a life-threatening disease or even dying. Unfortunately, life is full of uncertainties – no matter how healthy your lifestyle or how careful you are.
These words are not meant to send you into a tailspin of fear or anxiety – they are simply meant to drive home the importance of planning as much as possible for the unforeseen. Estate planning is one such way to do this.
What is an Estate?
The word estate does not have to refer to a castle in England or a mansion in Hollywood Hills. Most people have an estate: possessions that you own. Your estate may include a car, house (and everything in it), camper, boat, rental property, bank accounts, life insurance, etc. You may be thinking that if you already have these possessions, why would you need to “plan” for your estate?
Protection for Your Estate
Estate planning is a layer of protection for all of those possessions you have worked so hard to accumulate. If you really do not care where your possessions go after you pass away – and you do not have any loved ones you want to protect – then estate planning is not necessary. However, if you want your estate to be passed down to certain individuals or organizations after you die, and you want this to be done in the quickest, most hassle-free and financially sound manner, estate planning is the recommended action.
When you create a will or trust, you can specify exactly how, when and to whom you want your possessions distributed after you die. If these documents are not in place, your estate will pass pursuant to the laws of intestacy, which may not comport with your wishes. For example, if you have no relationship with your daughter, but you have not drawn up a will or trust that excludes her as a beneficiary for your estate, depending on the situation, she could receive a sizeable portion of your estate.
Estate Planning Does Even More
There are many different layers of estate planning. Sometimes your estate can actually protect you – before you pass away. Within your estate planning documents, you can state your wishes for situations such as:
- End-of-life decisions: a living will document allows you to state if/when/how you would like to have life-sustaining actions taken on your behalf.
- Medical or financial decisions: if you should become incapacitated and are unable to state your medical wishes or manage your finances, you can pre-arrange for other people to handle these responsibilities on your behalf (agents under powers of attorney).
- Childcare decisions: if you are unable to care for your children due to physical or mental disability, you can name a guardian to provide a stable, supportive and loving home for them.
- Business decisions: if you own a business, your estate plan can provide instructions on who should take over these responsibilities or how the business should be sold or transferred after you pass away or if you become incapacitated.
Do not Wait: Do It Now
It is all too easy to push estate planning down on your “adulting” To Do list. But, as mentioned at the start of this article, life is uncertain. No matter how healthy you are – now is the time to create an estate plan. No matter how much wealth or possessions you have accumulated in your life – your estate is worth protecting.
Yes, it takes time and a bit of effort to draft estate plans. You can try doing it yourself or you can enlist professional help to make sure your documents are done correctly, comprehensively and legally. An estate planning lawyer will ask you questions about your unique situation to ensure that you know all of your options to protect your estate and your loved ones. Keep in mind that your estate plan might need to be updated as you grow older and your family life changes.
Estate Planning Help in Denver
The Denver estate planning attorneys at Brown & Crona, LLC have helped clients in all stages of life and in all financial situations plan for their families’ futures. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to start the discussion.