Give Thanks with a Thoughtful Estate Plan
What are you Thankful for this Year?
Thanksgiving is the first spark of the holiday season, and before we head into the merriment, joy, and yes, sometimes stress, we are given the opportunity to pause and consider what we are thankful for.
What are you most thankful for?
The loved ones in your life are precious, and they rely on you. But, sometimes the unexpected occurs. Do you have a plan in place to protect those you hold most dear? You can show your gratitude for your loved ones this holiday season by putting a safety net in place in case the unexpected ever does occur.
Creating an Estate Plan to Protect the Ones You Love
An estate plan is about much more than transferring wealth to your beneficiaries. Your loved ones rely on you for support and guidance. What would happen if you were unable to provide for them?
Without a comprehensive estate plan, your minor children or loved ones with special needs are most at risk. Your spouse, adult children, and closest friends may suffer from the lack of a plan as well. A carefully-crafted estate plan allows you to provide for loved ones, protect your legacy, and preserve your assets.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable: Minor Children and Loved Ones with Special Needs
Those who stand to suffer most from a failure to plan are minor children and loved ones with special needs. Make sure that your estate plan designates both permanent and emergency guardians for your minor children. Without designations, the court will determine the best guardian for your children, and it may not be the person you would choose. Minor children are also not eligible to inherit until they reach the age of majority. To provide for their care until they are old enough, and to prevent a lump sum inheritance on their 18th birthdays, create a trust for their benefit. This is the best way to transfer assets to young children while exercising the greatest control.
For loved ones with special needs, a trust is also a good estate planning solution. Trusts can be specifically tailored to provide for a loved one’s needs and abilities. They can also be designed in such a way that they avoid losing eligibility for federal and state support programs. A lump sum inheritance passed to a family member with special needs can result in a loss of income-based federal support, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Of course, estate planning can also be used to protect and preserve wealth for future generations. You do not need to be a millionaire to want to transfer as much of your estate to your loved ones as possible. In fact, families with more moderate means stand to benefit the most from a carefully-executed estate plan. Without an estate plan, or if your plan is a simple will, your estate will pass to your heirs through probate. This means that a court will take responsibility for reviewing your will and, in the absence of a will, distributing your assets in accordance with state law. Depending on the complexity and size of your estate, the probate process can be long, costly, and burdensome for your loved ones. It is also public, so the details of your estate, assets, and distributions will become part of the public record.
An estate planning attorney can help you keep assets out of probate by reviewing and updating all beneficiary designation forms on accounts and insurance policies and by creating a trust tailored to serve your unique family.
Crafting a Legacy
Throughout your lifetime, you have amassed (and will continue to grow) a wealth of knowledge and experience. These intangible assets, as much as the property you own, are a part of your estate and your legacy. By working with a compassionate and experienced attorney, you can use your estate plan to communicate your values, memories, and lessons learned to your loved ones through letters, videos, photos, and recordings.
Every Estate Plan is Different
Every person and family is unique, so why wouldn’t your estate plan be unique as well? An experienced and compassionate estate planning attorney can work with you to tailor a plan that meets your family’s unique needs. What better way to show your gratitude this holiday season than by crafting a plan that serves your loved ones?
Let’s Give Thanks Together
While you are showing thanks for your loved ones, we want to show YOU our gratitude. To thank our wonderful readers, followers, and clients, during the month of November, Wakefield Law will be celebrating Thanksgiving by offering a free estate planning session (a $450 value). At this session, we will take an in-depth look at your unique family and discuss the best estate planning options for you. Reach out to us at (703) 771-9740 during the month of November to schedule your appointment. Happy Holidays!