Whether you’re single, widowed, divorced, a married couple, or an unmarried couple, everybody has the same three reasons for creating an estate plan.
You want your hard-earned assets to pass to the people you decide. You don’t want to leave these important personal discussions up to the court. What’s more, you want the right people to eventually receive your assets at the right time, when it’s most appropriate based on their age, maturity, needs and circumstances. And you want to make sure the wrong people, like greedy relatives or ex-spouses of children, can’t gain access to your money after you die. All these distribution objectives may be accomplished through proper estate planning.
You want to assure that your financial and medical affairs will be properly handled by a person of your choosing who is aware of your wishes when you become too ill or disabled to act for yourself. And you may want financial management, by your chosen person or persons, for your loved ones who may require such management if you’re no longer available to help them. Again, these management objectives can be accomplished through proper estate planning.
You want the maximum amount of your hard-earned assets to pass to the people you want to have them, with the least amount possible going to court fees and attorneys’ fees. You want to avoid the expenses, delays, publicity, and aggravation of a court conservatorship if you’re ill or disabled and a court probate after you pass. You want to minimize income and capital gains taxes while you’re living and estate taxes after you’re gone. You may want to protect your assets from creditors, predators, and divorcing spouses during your lifetime, as well as for your loved ones after they inherit your assets. And you may want to preserve your access to government benefits, such as Medicaid and veterans’ benefits, if you or your loved ones ever need them, so your money will not have to be spent down to pay for long-term care. Again, these preservation objectives can be accomplished through proper estate planning.