A common misconception about estate planning is that only the wealthiest families need one, but in today’s world that is no longer the case. With individuals living longer, blended families and the rising cost of healthcare, the pool of people who should consider an estate plan has broadened. If you own property, have assets you would like to leave for loved ones or have philanthropic interests, an estate plan may be just what you need.
The following are four key points to help you determine if an estate P.L.A.N. is right for you.
Protection A common feature of an estate plan is a Last Will and Testament, or simply, a Will. If you pass away without a Will a court will decide what happens to everything you own based on the laws governing your state. This may create a situation where your intended beneficiaries are either disinherited or receive less than you had planned. In some cases, the result is the designation of unwanted beneficiaries. Having a Will in place gives you the power to direct the distribution of your assets, and even name a guardian for minor children and arrange for the care of pets.
Legacy After your Will you might consider establishing a trust. Trusts serve many purposes beyond a Will which allows you to be creative in the distribution, preservation and/or maintenance of your assets. Worried about a loved one who lacks financial responsibility? Through a trust you can determine a specific percentage or dollar amount that you would like distributed to your beneficiaries over their lifetime. This applies not only to people but also to universities, charities and churches. Would you like to ensure the family farm is maintained for future generations? A trust can ensure this wish is carried out on your behalf. With a trust, your assets can continue to benefit the people and organizations that were important to you during your lifetime.
(un)Asked questions While it can be difficult to discuss the issues of a serious illness or incapacity this is a topic that is so important not just for you but for the ones you will care for you. Often times even the people closest to you may not know what your wishes are in the event you become incapacitated. This is where a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney documents can help. Through a Living Will, your loved ones will have specific instructions from you regarding medications, equipment and nourishment, either requesting or withholding the treatments should you become seriously ill. A Durable Power of Attorney allows individual(s), you appoint, to direct your financial and/or medical affairs. Should incapacity become an issue, your loved ones may find comfort in knowing they are honoring your wishes.
None ya’ As we discussed earlier, trusts are great estate planning tools for individuals who want more control over the distribution of their property after they pass away. Another benefit to a trust is privacy. Assets that are titled in the name of your trust do not go through probate. Instead they are managed discretely by a trustee of your choosing who is legally bound to do what is in the best interest of your beneficiaries.
Your family dynamic, financial needs and wants are unique which is why a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not recommended. Visit one of our Trust Officers today to learn how an estate plan can provide peace of mind and guidance for your loved ones. To find an officer nearest you, visit https://centralnational.com/whycentral/meetus.asp#trustofficers.