If someone wanted to give you a gift that would make your life less stressful and help you save a lot of money and time, we bet you’d welcome it.
Consider starting a new tradition with your family, suggests the Brainerd (MN) Dispatch in the article “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season.” When you devote the time and resources to making sure that you have an estate plan prepared, you’ve given your family the gift of less stress and guilt. They’ll have all the proper legal documents to avoid a host of problems.
When you pass away, your family will be dealing with stress, grief and emotional hardships. If you fail to create a will or other legal documentation, the process for your family to access your assets will be long and expensive. The probate process can take many months and money to distribute assets to your spouse, children, and grandchildren.
Without a will, there's also no guarantee that your assets will pass as you intended. For example, if you have a stepchild you reared as your own or aren’t married but in a serious relationship when you die, then many states do not recognize that stepchild or your significant other. These individuals may not get any of your assets, because there's no legal documentation linking them to your estate.
Lifetime giving is a great way to see that the money you are donating goes to good use. There are also tax deductions that go along with these gifts. You may not consider charitable giving as a part of your estate plan right now but discussing how much and when to give with your estate planning attorney can decrease your taxable estate. That could result in more money for your family in the future.
If you do plan to leave a donation after you're gone, there are several options to accomplish this. You can create a trust, scholarship fund, or donor advised fund to leave a legacy of giving to the causes you support. Because there are so many options available, your estate planning attorney is your best resource to help you decide which course of action will fit your circumstances and best meet your needs.
Yes, the estate planning process does require some time, and some decisions have to be made. However, that’s no different than making decisions when planning a vacation. Your estate planning attorney will guide you through the planning process, make sure that legal documents are correctly prepared and give you and your family peace of mind. That’s a worthwhile gift.
Reference: Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (December 8, 2018) “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season”