A recent article claims that almost two-thirds of Americans have not braved the topic of estate planning — to the point of lacking even a basic will. Yet is bravery required?
With the help of an attorney that focuses on wills, trusts and other instruments of estate planning, thinking about one’s legacy to heirs and other loved ones does not have to be an intimidating prospect.
For individuals who do not want to be locked into a permanent decision, a revocable trust is one way to leave detailed instructions to surviving loved ones in the event of a tragedy, while retaining complete control over the trust’s instructions and assets. A revocable living trust can also include detailed instructions for how an individual would like his or her medical and financial decisions to be made, in the event of incapacity.
For parents who have minor children as beneficiaries, in particular, naming a successor trustee in a revocable trust can provide great reassurance. It’s also a way to ensure greater privacy after a tragedy, as court involvement may otherwise be required when minor children are designated as beneficiaries of payable-on-death accounts (like an IRA or 401(k)). In the absence of a trust, a court-supervised minor’s guardianship might be required in that scenario — at least until the minor beneficiaries reach the legal age of adulthood.
Yet estate planning can also offer security to individuals in a variety of other lifestyles. The reason is planning: An attorney that focuses on wills and trusts can alert an individual to assets and/or issues that may be easily overlooked, such as social media accounts or pets. An attorney can also help an individual plan for contingencies such as divorce, separation, or incapacity.
For more information, check out our firm’s estate planning page.
Source: Forbes, “7 Common Estate-Planning Blunders Not To Make,” Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sept. 15, 2014