Estate planning is one of the most important things a person can do to protect their property and loved ones and prepare for the future. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misinformation surrounding estate planning. Many of those misconceptions hold people back from taking control of their future.
The only thing you need not consider before drafting an estate plan is whether you need one. Every adult needs one, even if it is basic. Building an estate plan is all about defining your goals and creating a plan that will achieve them. In order to set goals, you need to consider a range of issues.
In its annual survey of how Americans carry out estate planning – whether they have a will or other heirship document in place – the website Caring.com has found that the percentage of people with just a simple will has been declining.
The death of a parent is one of the most stressful and devastating events in anyone’s life. Losing a parent is a loss that does not fade over time. Instead, it shapes the bereaved child for the rest of their life.
The above concerns and documents are often affected by unique aspects of a client's situation. These may include tax issues where the property is significant; family law issues, such as a blended family or situations requiring separate financial controls, gifting intent as between spouses to their families, or disability of a family member, to name a few.
Gene Wilder, the successful actor and comedian who recently passed away, once described how-when he was a child-he'd helped care for his mother. She had been extremely ill with a heart condition. His mother's physician, upon examining her, warned the young Wilder to be good... or he could kill his mother.
As I mentioned, I grew up on a small family farm in central Ohio. My dad had bought the land and everything that went with it. Like many farms of that time, my family ran the farm while my parents worked jobs earning the money that supported us. The farm was not a hobby. It was a real working farm that had an even shot of paying its way each year and adding to the bottom line. That was the goal, and usually it worked.
The Last Will and Testament is the primary planning document specifying the transfer of property from a deceased person's estate to his beneficiaries.
It also can name a guardian for minor children or dependents, while providing other direction to courts for their care. (It may include a "Testamentary Trust" to provide for the minor's or dependent's financial estate.)
Ben Franklin once experienced a constant harassment from an important and powerful political opponent. Franklin was aware that his opponent possessed an unusual and rare book, and he asked his opponent if he might borrow the book. His opponent agreed to the loan. Franklin returned it in due course, having taken good care of it along the way. Thereafter, his opponent never again harassed Franklin. Ben Franklin reported the event as a strategic effort to improve his relationship with that individual, and it worked.