August is National Will Month. It precedes September’s National Preparedness Month and somehow, National “What Will Be Your Legacy” Month manages to fit snugly between the two. In truth, there is never a better time than “now” to be prepared and create an estate plan to protect one’s family and assets. Yet while responsible people agree with the importance of having a plan, it’s something that people still like to delay. Their reasoning is that “they’ll do it when they get older” or “when they accumulate ‘real’ assets.”
Having the protection of an estate plan is akin to installing a roof on one’s house. A new roof adds value to a property because it protects a dwelling and its contents. It’s not ‘sexy’, it can be expensive, but it’s very necessary.
Here are three reasons to have an estate plan, regardless of your station in life:
- Control. If you own something of value and you want the item(s) to be left to someone you care about, a Will is needed to ensure your wishes are honored. An heirloom, money, or even certain conduct, can be addressed by an estate plan. Having a Will gives you the control to select who gets the assets that you own at the time of death.
- Money. When you or your family starts to accumulate more assets, you are building an “estate” that ultimately needs to be distributed. Even modest estates have to be probated without a Will, and Probate can be expensive.
- Protection. Estate plans are about more than just protecting the welfare of “small children”. Having a plan to address outstanding debts or ensure college funding can be important. Who will have to continue to pay on a remaining mortgage, or who gets the family home? These questions and others are efficiently addressed by having a plan.
The real impact of having a comprehensive plan is felt after a death. However, even in life comprehensive estate plans contain advance directives, such as a Living Will, that can, and do make a huge difference for our clients and their families.
About the Author: Since 1990, attorney David Soble has represented thousands of consumers and businesses in their finance and real estate matters.
Disclaimer: You should not rely or act upon the contents of this article without seeking advice from your own attorney.