Have you never bothered to draft a will or do your estate planning? If you talk to friends, co-workers and family members, do most of them say that they have not done it either?
It's never too early to start thinking about planning your estate. If you are a young adult, it's likely that you don't have a lot of assets, and therefore you may think that planning your estate is unnecessary at this stage in your life. However, the benefits of planning your estate go far beyond the distribution of assets.
You and your partner have been together for the last 20 years. You were both coming out of other marriages -- via divorce -- when you met. You agreed that, while you were committed to each other, you did not want to get married again. It did not seem worth it to go through the whole process.
There are a lot of estate planning myths out there. People give bad advice about how to avoid estate taxes. They don't understand how trusts work. They think that only the super-rich need to have an estate plan.
Do you have goals for your estate plan? It's different for everyone, but figuring out your goals is a great place to start. When you know what you want that estate plan to do, you can start working with that in mind, and you can learn about all of the options that will get you to that desired outcome.
Before doing your estate planning, you decide to look up the average life expectancy in the United States. If things go as planned -- if you don't get into a car accident, for instance, or suffer a fatal injury at work -- you want to know how long you have.
For many people, a major motivation in planning their estate is making sure that their loved ones are not under a great deal of stress with administrative responsibilities at the end of their life. By taking their time to plan out their estate, perhaps even creating trusts to avoid the probate process, their loved ones are likely to be relieved of many of the bureaucratic processes while they are grieving.
In planning your estate, you are essentially attempting to plan for an uncertain future. None of us will be able to predict what ours and our loved ones' lives will be like in a decade's time. In addition, we are not able to force how laws might change, particularly in regard to taxes and inheritance.
If you're debating whether you need an estate plan, you should probably err on the side of caution and get one. In fact, everyone -- no matter how wealthy he or she is -- receives important benefits from a finalized estate, not just in the financial arena. An estate plan, for example, allows you to indicate a person who will make financial and health decision on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. Furthermore, an estate plan will indicate who takes care of your children if you're no longer able to do so.
Small business owners in Ohio would be well advised to take a look at the benefits of estate planning for transferring one's share or its value to their heirs at death. This will usually involve a mix of legal instruments drawn from both estate planning and business law agreements to make the transition easier and ultimately more lucrative for one's heirs. The complicated tax issues that may arise in this context are best determined and planned in consultation with an estate planning attorney and a tax expert or qualified financial planner.