Do you have an estate plan in place?
If you’ve yet to set up a comprehensive estate plan that allows for the orderly succession of your personal and business assets to your heirs, you’re not alone. Most people, including many of substantial means, do not have a legally binding estate plan.
Putting an estate plan in place takes time and requires some attention. That said, it’s important to get done with all deliberate speed. Let’s examine five arguments in favor of creating and deploying an estate plan in timely fashion.
1.- Your Records May Not Be As Accessible As You Think
Does any one person know where to find all your financial records and account information? Are these records even organized properly? A comprehensive estate plan includes a detailed asset inventory that spells out exactly what you own and where to find proper records of said ownership. For your executors and heirs, this is an invaluable resource.
2.- Your Personal and Corporate Situation May Be Complex
If you have considerable assets or own shares in a family business, your financial situation is sure to be more complex than the average person’s. According to professional trust companies like Asiaciti Trust, a proper estate plan may need to include novel structures, such as personal trusts and corporate entities in various international jurisdictions. You’ll want the assistance of experienced trust and corporate services providers in these cases.
3.- Your Informally Communicated Wishes May Be Unclear to Your Heirs
Simply telling your heirs that you plan to leave them this or that asset is not sufficient. After your death, these communications may precipitate misunderstandings that increase the cost and acrimony associated with the settlement of your estate. A formal estate plan is far better for everyone involved.
4.- Death Is Not the Only Eventuality
Death might be inevitable, but it’s not the only eventuality addressed by a comprehensive estate plan. Should you become incapacitated due to injury or illness prior to your death, you’ll need a trusted designee to make legally binding decisions on your behalf. This arrangement is stipulated by your power of attorney designation, and it’s every bit as important as your last will and testament.
Likewise, should your likelihood of recovery from a grave injury or illness dim, you’ll need an advance medical directive and/or living will to inform your heirs about your wishes around lifesaving measures and care.
5.- The Unexpected Can Happen at Any Time
Lastly, remember that the unexpected can happen at any time. You may expect to live a long, fruitful life well past retirement, but fate may have other plans. Among other matters, a comprehensive estate plan ensures that your minor children will be cared for should you pass on suddenly.
Plan for the Future — Today
Given time, you can no doubt come up with a host of reasonable excuses for putting off your estate plan for another day. Many of these excuses are entirely legitimate: after all, you almost certainly have more pressing issues to attend to on a day-to-day basis, particularly if you’re responsible for running part or all of your family’s business.
It’s also true, however, that these obligations won’t magically dissipate at some convenient future time. You’ll always have “more pressing issues” — the “perfect day” for estate planning will never come.
With this in mind, why not set your estate plan in motion sooner rather than later? The unexpected won’t wait for a convenient time to strike, after all.