Dads are the best. They protect us, help us, and teach us new things. Even when we’re adults, our dads still are the leaders of the family. If your father doesn’t have an estate plan, give him the gift of a planning session, as that might help repay some of the amazing things your dad has done for you.
In the spirit of protection, in this article, we’ll discuss who and what your estate plan can protect. If you or your dad don’t have one, it’s time to get going on that process ASAP. Contact an attorney to discuss your options in setting up an estate plan.
Estate Plans Protect Beneficiaries
Once upon a time, estate planning was thought of as something only rich people needed, as it was their wealthy beneficiaries who would benefit from having a place in plan. However, that conception has totally changed, and there are a lot of middle-class families who can seriously benefit from having an estate plan in the event something happens to the breadwinner(s) of the family.
No matter what you’re leaving behind, if you don’t have a plan for what happens when you pass away, you will have no control over where it goes—it might even be sold and the proceeds given to creditors. Beneficiaries are protected with estate planning, as the major component of estate planning involves designating who you want to receive your assets. Without a plan, the court will decide who gets what, and that process can not only rack up fees, it can also get ugly. The court doesn’t know your family history, so it doesn’t know who should and shouldn’t be receiving any money.
Heirs Get Spared the IRS (Kind Of)
Sometimes, when setting up an estate plan, there are legal ways to minimize and shrink your tax burden. If estate planning is about protecting loved ones, what better way to do so than to keep them away from the IRS? One essential of estate planning is transferring assets in a way that creates the smallest tax burden for heirs. Though it’s foolhardy to say taxes will be wiped out totally, they can be reduced with savvy planning.
Even just a little foresight can enable people—especially married couples—to reduce federal/state estate and state inheritance taxes. Without a plan in place that has been developed by a professional, your beneficiaries might end up shelling out quite a bit of cash to Uncle Sam.
Keeping Kids Safe
Another major benefit to estate planning is that it helps plan for the unthinkable. No one thinks something bad will happen to them, but you never know, in this crazy world. If you have minor children, setting up guardianship for them will keep them in a stable home if you and your spouse die before they turn eighteen. Without a will naming guardians for your kids, courts step in and decide who raises them. An impartial judge who has never met your family really is not the best person to decide such an intimate, life-changing decision.
Even if your dad’s kids are grown now, yours might not be. Protecting kids is what dads do—and estate plans can help.
Say Goodbye to Messy Family Situations
We’ve all seen or heard these horror stories, and we might even know of them occurring in real life—perhaps in our own family. When someone dies without a will, the war between family members begins. It gets really ratcheted up if the person has a considerable amount of money. Someone always thinks they deserve money the most, even if they’re notoriously irresponsible. The result is ugly squabbling that can even end up in litigation, racking up not only family animosity, but also a ton in legal fees.
Bypass that mess by having an estate plan. The plan will stop fights before they begin, as you decide who controls your finances if you become incapacitated, and you decide what happens to your assets (money, property, etc.) after you die. You can even come up with individualized plans for your relatives, such as a trust fund for someone who isn’t responsible to inherit a lump sum but still should get something. Telling your family situation to a lawyer, who is bound by client confidentiality, will help the practitioner decide what is best for your family.
As you can see, there are some major benefits to having an estate plan in place. Don’t try to set one up yourself, as there are a lot of minor technicalities to legal documents, and a lot can go wrong. Instead, discuss options with an estate planning attorney, who will help you get the necessary documents together. Schedule an appointment and find out more on our website.