Not just for wealthy people, an estate plan helps protect your loved ones in the event that something happens to you. If you have savings, a home, a car, children or ageing parents – you should have an estate plan in place.
Estate planning provides you the opportunity to think about those that you care about most in life and ensure they are looked after.
While a will is essentially a plan that lets you tell the world whom you want to receive your assets after death, an estate plan goes beyond that to include setting out your wishes in the event you are unable to make decisions about your assets, family or your health.
This may include:
- A power of attorney for medical, legal and/or financial decisions if you are incapable of making those decisions yourself.
- Instructions for your care if you become disabled or unable to care for yourself prior to death.
- Naming a guardian and an inheritance manager for any minor children.
- Providing for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
- Providing for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from litigation, creditors or relationship breakdowns.
- Providing for the transfer of your business at disability or death.
- Minimising taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
Should you pass without one, your estate is administered and distributed (usually to family members) according to a specific set of criteria. These criteria rarely reflect your wishes or your loved ones needs.
During such emotional times, the time, stress and significant cost such proceedings can create are an unnecessary burden to your family and loved ones, which is why it is so important to have estate planning and a valid will in place.