Why Should I Create an Estate Plan?
Author | Stacy Hanley
As uncomfortable as it can be to think about what happens towards the end of our lives, it is a necessary conversation to have if we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
If you were to pass away, what would happen to all of your property and belongings? Would your spouse and children be taken care of? Would your heirs be able to amicably divide all of your assets?
What about if you were to become incapacitated? Have you set any medical decisions in place ahead of time to take the guesswork out for the doctors and your loved ones? Have you appointed anyone to manage your assets on your behalf should you become unable to communicate your wishes? Have you planned for the potential of needed long-term care?
Estate plans exist to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected should any type of physical or financial emergency arise.
Here are some of the main reasons you should create an estate plan now rather than putting it off.
Women, Be Prepared!
Due to the kind and trusting nature of most women, plus the stereotype of women lacking as much financial literacy as men, older women are by far the most likely to become victims of elder financial abuse. I saw one situation where a man convinced his elderly girlfriend to sign a Power of Attorney naming him as an agent. When she died, he didn’t notify the bank of her death and ended up draining her bank account.
Not only that, but 95% of women become their family’s primary financial decision-maker at some point in their lives due to the death or disability of their husbands or a divorce. So many women get blindsided by these unexpected life events and find themselves totally clueless as to how much money they actually have, where their money is, how they will pay their bills, how their assets are titled, etc.
For both of these reasons and more, it’s crucial for women to meet with an estate planning attorney sooner rather than later to make sure they are well acquainted with their finances and prepared for the uncertainties of life.
Plan Your Medical Decisions Now
If you were to become temporarily or permanently incapacitated from either an unexpected accident or medical diagnosis, how would you pay for treatment or long-term care without draining your accounts? Do you have money set aside for your spouse and/or children should you become unable to provide for them? Would your spouse be prepared to answer doctors’ questions on your behalf in the event you are unresponsive and in need of a life-changing surgery? A healthcare proxy and Power of Attorney are two estate planning documents that will help you prepare for all of those situations.
Prevent Disputes Among Heirs
Many parents fail to realize that neglecting to provide equal distributions of the estate to each of their children can set them up for an ugly future rivalry. In the worst-case scenarios, these feelings of bitterness from assumed parental favoritism can last a lifetime.
The best way to prevent animosity over your estate with your children is to communicate with them openly, sooner rather than later. Sit your family down and be upfront with them about your intentions for your assets and property and your reasoning behind them. Taking the time to explain your wishes in advance allows your loved ones to express their feelings ahead of time, giving you the opportunity to make any necessary changes that can prevent them from harboring resentment towards you or each other after you pass.
Estate Planning with Lefkoff-Duncan
Are you unsure of how to plan your estate with these things in mind? Lefkoff-Duncan is here to help. Our experienced team will assist you in all of your estate planning endeavors so that you’ll never again need to wonder if you’ve done enough to take care of the ones you love. Give us a call at your convenience at 404-262-2000 to get started.