Where Should I Begin with Estate Planning?

Estate planning is something that finds its way to the backburner for many people. Some are uncomfortable dealing with the management and division of their assets, and others just choose to procrastinate. Unfortunately, putting off estate planning can cost you money now and in the future.

Many who are just beginning the estate planning process are not sure where to begin. Though estate planning regulations and laws can be extremely complicated, there are a few important things everyone should address, even if they are not ready for the in-depth steps of thorough estate planning.

Where should you begin when it comes to estate planning? These questions can help:

Do I have a will?

Many people assume if they are not wealthy there is no need to have a will. This is not true! Everyone should create a will, especially if they are married or have dependent children. A will does more than divvy up your money, so even if you have yet to build a significant nest egg, there are still issues to address with a will.

One of the most important things your will addresses is who will care for your dependent children should something happen to you and your spouse. Parents often assume just telling a friend or family member they are in charge is enough, but this can lead to disputes over the custody of children once you are gone. The last thing your children need if they lose you is to deal with a bitter custody battle involving their future care. A will legally details precisely what you want for your children in the event something happens to you and your spouse. It also ensures the right people receive the assets you have acquired, small as they might be.

Do my loved ones know what to do if I require life support measures?

There is more to estate planning that creating a will. Proper estate planning also addresses the care you wish to receive should an emergency occur. Everyone has a right to choose what will happen if they are incapacitated, but many fail to take action before something occurs. A living will tells your loved ones exactly what actions you want taken if you are unable to survive without life supporting medical measures. In addition to ensuring your loved ones are legally bound to honor your wishes, a living will also removes the burden your loved ones will face to make the decision. Imagine the trauma and heartache you can prevent by addressing your end of life decisions and creating a living will before the need arises.

Do my children have special needs?

When children have physical or mental challenges parents find themselves in caretaker roles much longer than expected. This means your children might need support long past the time you are healthy enough or otherwise capable of providing it. Do you know what will happen to your special needs child once you can no longer provide care?

It is also possible to create a special needs trust for your child, which allows you to supplement benefits provided by other sources and appoint someone to handle the financial well-being of your child once you are gone.

These three issues do not include all issues associated with estate planning, but they are a great place to begin. If you are ready to embark on estate planning or you have questions about what you can do to provide for your loved ones in your absence, contact the legal team at Miller and Steiert, P.C.


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