More than half of all Americans and nearly 80% of millennials do not have a basic estate plan, such as a will or trust, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
While many people believe estate planning is only for older and wealthier people, anyone regardless of age, marital status or net worth should consider having a plan in place in case something unexpected happens, especially if you have children.
How can an estate plan help you?
There are several essential reasons to have a plan for any stage of your life, including:
- Planning for yourself: One of the most critical functions of an estate plan is determining who will make decisions for you if you become ill or injured and can’t make them yourself. A durable power of attorney can speak for you on financial and legal matters, while a healthcare proxy, living will, or medical power of attorney can make health care decisions.
- Giving your property to others: A will names beneficiaries as well as a personal representative or executor who will distribute your assets according to your wishes. You can also designate a guardian for underage children to oversee their care in your absence, or if you are incapacitated.
- Reducing taxes: You’ve worked hard and want to pass along as much of your wealth as possible to your heirs. Considering trust options is one way to protect and enhance distributions. Another is taking advantage of provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which expanded exemption levels for larger distributions without triggering transfer taxes.
- Giving to charity: An estate plan allows you to ensure that your philanthropic wishes are followed in supporting nonprofits and other organizations of your choosing.
- Protecting your legacy: High-asset individuals may be well-served by considering a wide range of strategies to protect their property. Different types of trusts, along with insurance policies, limited liability entities and other plans can protect your assets from creditors as well as frivolous claims and lawsuits.
Estate planning can give you peace of mind
Few people look welcome making end-of-life decisions, especially when they are still in good health, and look forward to a long and happy life. However, putting a plan in place can provide the comfort that your family will be taken care of should an unforeseen event happen. An experienced estate planning attorney here in Florida can answer your questions and help you put a plan in place.