Have you put off creating your estate plan despite well-meaning friends and family members urging you to get a plan in place? If so, you are hardly alone. Over half of all Americans don’t have an estate plan in place. Those same people, however, acknowledge the importance of having a plan. One reason people frequently put off creating an estate plan is that they don’t realize everything a well thought out estate plan can do for them.
What Goals and Objectives Should Be in Your Estate Plan?
Every estate plan is as unique as the individual who creates the plan. As such, no two estate plans are identical. The goals and objectives you choose to include in your estate plan will relate to your needs and circumstances. Nevertheless, there are a number of goals and objectives that are commonly found in an estate plan. Once you learn how an estate plan can help you achieve the numerous and varied goals you may have, it may prompt you to finally get started on your plan.
- Preventing the State from deciding how your estate assets are distributed. If you die without so much as a basic Last Will and Testament in place, you will leave behind an intestate estate. Doing so is tantamount to letting the State of Florida decide what happens to your assets after you are gone. Pursuant to the state’s intestate succession laws, only very close relatives will likely inherit from your estate. You give up the right to decide who receives family heirlooms and sentimental items from your estate. Creating even the most basic of estate plans ensures that you decide who inherits from your estate and exactly which assets they receive.
- Planning for the possibility of your own incapacity. Incapacity can strike anyone at any time as a result of a serious accident or debilitating illness. If you do suffer a period of incapacity, someone will need to make personal and financial decisions for you. A court will have to decide who that person (or persons) will be if you didn’t plan ahead. Your loved ones could also wind up battling over the right to make those decisions for you which could tear your family apart. Including an incapacity planning component in your comprehensive estate plan prevents such an unwanted outcome.
- Protecting your minor child’s inheritance. Legally, your minor child cannot inherit directly from your estate. If you die without making provisions for your child’s inheritance, a court will have to decide who controls those assets until your child reaches the age of majority. If you fail to plan ahead through proper estate planning, the assets you leave behind for your child could wind up in the hands of someone you don’t trust and who doesn’t have your child’s best interests at heart. Creating a trust to protect your child’s inheritance lets you decide who will manage those assets and offers a certain amount of continued control over how the assets are spent through the trust terms you create.
- Planning for the high cost of long-term care. The yearly cost of long-term care (LTC) was almost $100,000, on average, across the nation in 2018. Residents of Florida paid, on average, slightly more at $108,000 for that same year of care. Because neither Medicare nor most health insurance policies cover LTC, your retirement nest egg could be at risk if you are faced with the need to pay for the high cost of LTC. By including a Medicaid planning component in your overall estate plan now you can protect your assets and ensure eligibility for Medi-Cal if you need it down the road.
- Ensuring that your wishes are honored. End of life health care decisions may need to be made for you at some point, such as whether to accept artificial hydration and nutrients. If you have an opinion about end of life medical treatment, the only way to ensure that your wishes are honored is to execute the appropriate advance directive and include it in your estate plan. The same is true for if you have specific wishes with regard to how your body is handled after you are gone. The only way to ensure that wishes are honored is by creating a funeral planning component within your estate plan.
Contact Port St. Lucie & Vero Beach Estate Planning Attorneys
To learn more, please download our FREE solid estate plan checklist. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, please contact the experienced Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach estate planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.