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7883426 - a grinning jack o lantern illustration.You may be really scared about the idea of creating your own estate plan.  You have to meet with an attorney and talk about something bad happening to you.  Fortunately, the process of creating your estate plan does not need to be like the monster under your bed.  In fact, estate planning gives you peace of mind while protecting your family from unexpected tragedies lurking around the corner.  Remember, estate planning is not just for the ultra-rich. If you own anything or have young children, you should have an estate plan.

Benefits of Estate Planning

Proper estate planning should do two main things for you.  First, it should address and meet your needs.  Your needs may be to name a guardian for your children, help you organize your finances, protect your children’s inheritance from creditors, predators, or spenders, provide for a disabled child, or any number of things.  Second, a proper estate plan should express your values and protect and provide for your loved ones for as long as you want.

Yet, according to WealthCounsel’s 2016 Estate Planning Literacy Survey, only 40 percent of Americans have a will and just 17 percent have a trust in place.  That means that most families are vulnerable to death or disability, and their future may be thrown into question.  Just as important, the Survey also found that many Americans did not understand everything that an estate plan can do, such as meet any medical needs, avoiding court interference, promote family harmony and discourage discord, or take advantage of tax strategies.

Estate Planning Horror Stories

Intra-family fights over an estate plan are too common.  Not only does this lead to less money going to your loved ones, but it may damage family relationships, perhaps irreparably.  There are many famous such cases, including:

  • Prince, who did not have an estate plan, and whose family is still fighting.
  • Whitney Houston, who did not update her plan, which impacted her daughter Bobby Kristina for the worse.
  • James Gandolfini, whose lack of a completed estate plan made his estate subject to death taxes.
  • Michael Jackson, who created a trust but did not put any property into them, thus creating a long and inefficient probate process.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose lack of an estate plan made his children’s inheritances to be taxed.

These are just the famous ones.  WealthCounsel’s survey found that maybe 1/3 of Americans know someone whose family was impacted by an improper estate plan.  Also, more than half of Americans who created an estate plan did so to avoid family discord.  Family is often at the center of everything we do and preserving family harmony is therefore very important to most of us.

Attorneys: Your Guide to Not-So-Spooky Estate Planning

Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed by WealthCounsel said estate planning was a confusing topic.  Unfortunately, online programs do not help in making estate planning less confusing.  Confusion leads to poor decisions.  Fortunately, working with a good attorney can reduce or eliminate confusion and help create an appropriate, and certainly less scary, estate plan.  Contact The Rains Law Firm or schedule a complimentary initial meeting to make creating an estate plan less scary.