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How do I know if I need an estate plan?

Mar 5, 2021 | Estate Planning

As anyone who has turned on the news recently has likely seen, estate planning is a hot topic. After all, with so much death in the news, estate planning becomes acutely important for us all. But, this may leave some wondering if they actually need an estate plan.

Children and marriage

If one has children or is married, they need an estate plan. The plan states what should happen with the children should one or both parents pass, like who should become their guardians, what assets should be used for their care, etc. And, the plan can craft a strategy for if one spouse dies to protect some assets for the spouse and some for the children.

Estate size

Of course, if one’s estate exceeds the estate tax exclusion, which was $11.58 million in 2020, an estate plan is needed. This is because an estate plan can move assets and reclassify assets in such a way to avoid federal estate taxes. This ensures that more of one’s estate goes to who they want, rather than to the federal government.

Avoiding probate

Without an effective estate plan, one’s assts and family will need to go through the probate process. This is a court proceeding that requires attorneys, which means fees and time delays. Indeed, in especially contentious probate proceedings, one’s estate could be nearly eliminated by probate and lawyer fees. And, as probate takes at least a year, forcing one’s family to go through the process only prolongs the pain of losing a loved one.

Maintaining privacy

The probate process is completely open, not confidential. This means that one’s business is open to anyone that wants to know. In addition, if there are things in one’s life that they would like to keep secret, a properly crafted estate plan can ensure privacy.

Medical planning

Of course, as part of an estate plan, what one wants to be done with their remains will be explained, but a proper estate plan will also have instructions on what to do should one become incapacitated. This includes who should make medical decisions for them, what their end of life wishes include, like how long to be kept on life support, etc.

These are only a few of the reasons, but this will help families avoid the probate process and ensure that one’s wishes are executed. Though, ensuring that that estate plan is legally enforceable is why contacting a Novi, Michigan, attorney is so important.