The biggest reason to have an estate plan is your family. Without one, they will be put through all kinds of troubles and costs. With one, they will be protected. It is really that simple.
The list of famous people who die without estate plans grows every year. If we look back, we can find some unlikely examples—Pablo Picasso, former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and, more recently, musical icon Prince. Because of their failure to have an estate plan created, their families got to clean up the mess. And the bigger the estate, the bigger the mess.
Can you imagine it took 19 attorneys several years to settle Picasso's assets among his heirs? Also, McNair had a $20 million estate with no game plan for how it would be allocated. And we’ve all heard about Prince’s lack of estate planning.
While you may not have celebrity wealth, these stars’ complicated finances should remind you of the importance of an estate plan. With proper planning and the expertise of an estate planning attorney, a Picasso-sized estate disaster can be avoided.
Kiplinger’s recent article, “5 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan,” asks you to consider the following reasons why estate plans are important:
- Control. With your estate plan, you can feel confident that your final wishes will be carried out because you can direct exactly how and when your heirs receive their inheritance, who gets the Steve McNair autographed jersey or which art museum will display your Picasso.
- Business. A small business owner can know that his or her business won’t be negatively affected by his or her unforeseen death. An estate plan drafted by an experienced attorney can make certain that the business will continue uninterrupted. Business owners can detail what should happen to the operations if they die, which can reduce the taxes their businesses will owe.
- Privacy. Without an estate plan, the probate process will let everyone know a person's assets at his or her passing because this is a matter of public record. An estate plan may eliminate the need for probate.
- Protection. Many Americans will suffer from an illness or disability before they die. If you’re proactive with an estate plan, you can arrange exactly how such a scenario would be handled with a power of attorney. An individual you select will be in control of your personal assets. If you fail to do this, your property may be appointed to a legal guardian who may mishandle your assets.
- Organization. When you take inventory for your estate plan, you can consider how to expand the worth of all of your assets. This process is necessary for your estate plan and your retirement plan. This will help you accurately gauge whether or not you have the resources in place to retire.
Bottom line: protect your loved ones and create a legacy of caring, not carelessness, by meeting with an estate planning attorney.
Reference: Kiplinger’s (August 2016) “5 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan”