Do you have friends and family members who periodically bug you about setting up an estate plan? If so, you may be putting them off because you are convinced you don’t really need an estate plan yet. You are hardly alone. People often think they don’t need an estate plan because they only have a modest estate. As an Overland Park estate planning attorney at Parman & Easterday explains, the need for estate planning is not directly related to the size and value of your estate.
Myths and Misconceptions
Surveys tell us that despite acknowledging the need for an estate plan, over half of all Americans do not have one in place. Often, the explanation offered for this seeming disparity is based on the belief that an estate plan is only necessary once you have reached a certain level of material wealth. The truth, however, is that every adult can benefit from estate planning. Moreover, a comprehensive estate plan can (and should) accomplish a wide variety of objectives that go above and beyond simply distributing your estate assets after you are gone.
Estate Planning Goals and Objectives
Whether you have a complex and valuable estate or a simple and modest estate, there are a number of goals and objectives you can include in your estate plan, including:
- Avoiding probate. A common estate planning goal is probate avoidance. Probate is the term given to the legal process that follows a death and during which a decedent’s estate assets are identified, debts of the estate are paid, and estate assets are eventually transferred to the new owners. Formal probate can be time consuming and costly. Moreover, beneficiaries of the estate may have to wait a long time before receiving their inheritance. A well drafted estate plan, however, can help your estate avoid probate altogether.
- Protecting and providing for your minor child. If you are a parent, your child is your most valuable asset. Your estate plan can do much to help protect and provide for your child. Your Will offers the only official opportunity to nominate a Guardian for your child in the event one is ever needed. In addition, your minor child cannot inherit directly from your estate. Therefore, most parents create a trust within their estate plan to protect and guard the assets they intend to leave their child.
- Planning for the possibility of incapacity. Incapacity is not a concern that is limited to the elderly. In fact, you could become incapacitated tomorrow as the result of a tragic accident or debilitating illness. Your estate plan allows you to plan for that possibility by deciding ahead of time who will control your assets and who will make decision for you if incapacity does strike.
- Planning for long-term care. At some point, you may require long-term care. The cost of that care may surprise you. Nationwide, the average cost of a year in LTC for 2019 was almost $100,000. If you don’t plan for the possibility that you may need to pay for LTC in the future, you could put the assets you do own at risk should you need to qualify for Medicaid to help pay for your LTC expenses.
Contact an Overland Park Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, or you are ready to get started on your plan, contact an experienced Overland Park estate planning attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 or 913-385-9400 to schedule your appointment today.
If you die intestate (without a Will), the state has a plan for you. The state’s intestate succession laws dictate what happens to your assets. Only close family will likely inherit from your estate.
Yes. While the need for estate planning does increase as you grow your family, you can still benefit from having an estate plan in place as a single person who has no children.
There are no hard and fast rules; however, every three to five years during your working years is about right for a routine review and update of your estate plan. There are a number of life events that call for a more immediate and thorough review.