One of the most common statements people express about estate planning is the idea of wanting something in place so that all their affairs will be “taken care of.” This idea is often expressed with the assumption that creating a will can do this, or that you can have all your affairs properly addressed by telling your spouse or family what you want. While the desire to have everything taken care of is natural, and sounds simple, it can lead people to adopt the unfounded assumption that a simple desire leads to a simple solution. When it comes to estate planning, simple desires often require time and preparation to address properly.
I Just Want Everything Taken Care Of: Inheritances
One of the main goals with any estate plan is to choose how you want your property distributed after you die. With a few exceptions, you are free to choose whatever inheritances you like, and are not obligated to leave anything to any specific person. But, you cannot simply make your inheritance choices in any way you like. Rather, you have to do so in one or more legally recognized ways. For example, you can make inheritance choices through a will, but that will has to meet specific state legal requirements.
Should you fail to make your inheritance choices in a legally recognized manner, your inheritance wishes will not be honored.
I Just Want Everything Taken Care Of. Children
People with minor children want to ensure that their children will be protected in the event something happens to them. An estate plan will allow you to choose who you want to become the child’s guardian, as well as allow you to leave your children inheritances that will be protected until they are old enough to manage the property on their own.
But, again, you cannot create these protections by simply expressing your wishes. You have to make your choices known through legally enforceable estate planning tools. Failing to do so will mean a court makes these decisions, not you.
I Just Want Everything Taken Care Of. Health Care Decisions, Representatives, and The Rest
Beyond inheritances and protecting children, what else do you want taken care of? Do you have specific medical choices that you need protected and enforced, even if you’re no longer able to express yourself? Do you want someone specific to manage your finances if you fall ill, or want someone specific to manage your estate after you die? Do you want one or more trusts to protect your decisions, and if so, who should run those trusts? Do you need a single trustee, or co-trustees? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each of your options, and how do those affect your other choices?
Knowing the answer to all of these questions and creating tools that protects your choices is what estate planning is all about. If you want everything taken care of, you need to craft a plan that addresses everything, and that can be complicated.
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