By Jeffrey R. Wolfe, Senior Vice President, Manager of Wealth Planning StrategiesPrint This Post
Once again, the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils is promoting Estate Planning Awareness week, starting today. The longstanding goal of the week is to help people understand what estate planning is, and why it is such an important aspect to your financial wellbeing. To help further this goal, we will feature several blogs this week that focus on why estate planning is important, as well as some trending topics in the area.
To start, most surveys agree that more than half of the American population does not have a complete estate plan. A common misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy, but this is not true. Most people, regardless of wealth, have an idea of how they would like their assets distributed in the event of a death, or who they would prefer to make decisions for them in the event of incapacity. This desire for control is the true purpose for estate planning but failing to implement a plan to assure these goals will be achieved is a common oversight.
So, the question becomes, do you have a will or a trust to control your assets at death? Have you created financial and health care powers of attorney to assure your goals will be met should you become incapacitated? If the answer is no, you need to start your plan. Even if your answer is yes, when’s the last time you reviewed your plan? Does your health care declaration contemplate something like COVID, for example?
These are difficult topics to say the least, but your planning team is here to help. You can work with your legal advisor and your financial advisor the help build, review and/or update your plan. We have lots of educational materials to help guide you along the way, along with internal experts to consult on your specific situation.
Remember, if you don’t proactively establish your intentions with a proper estate plan, your state has default provisions on where your assets will go when you pass away and what type of decisions will be made for you should you become incapacitated. Many times, the state’s default rules do not align with your legacy goals. Take the initiative to create and update your estate plan so your intentions can be followed. You and your family will appreciate the comfort of a proper plan. Ask your financial advisor how to help you get started.
Benjamin F. Edwards does not provide tax advice; therefore, it is also important to consult with your tax professional for additional guidance tailored to your specific situation.