Many people delay writing a will. Perhaps it's due to fear of the unknown, or anxiety at the thought of the end of life. It's understandable. You may have thought about what you'd like to happen when you die, but you're afraid to put it in writing because it feels too serious or final. Even if you're middle-aged, you might still be putting it off. Isn't estate planning for "old people"?
Yet for those who haven't yet created a will or living trust, there are a dozen reasons to do so. One way to look at it is that once you take the step, you'll be able to put a lot of worries about the future to rest.
Who would say no to increased peace of mind?
Some reasons to do estate planning may occur to you right away: providing for your children or surviving spouse or partner, naming a guardian for your children or deciding who inherits the house, car or valuable collection of sports memorabilia (or whatever you have stashed away).
Successful estate planning can also do the following:
- Make a plan for future medical emergencies--you can name a health care power of attorney now, for who will handle decisions if you're mentally or physically unable to do so yourself
- Take the burden off your family--if your funeral arrangements are made ahead of time, that's one thing your loved ones won't have to decide during a time of grief
- Save money by simplifying the process of transferring property, with a chosen executor or trustee handling the administrative duties
- Reduce taxes; a smart estate plan will give your beneficiaries the most money and the IRS the least
- Set aside funds for special people in your life, such as college expenses for a grandchild or living expenses for a disabled or needy relative
- Dedicate financial support to a favorite charity of yours (which can start now, and be a tax advantage)
- Decide how your business will be run after you're gone by creating a succession plan or terms of dissolution
It might sound daunting up front, but it's far better to do the hard work now while you have the time and energy. Working with an attorney, you can be sure you won't leave anything to chance.
Creating an estate plan doesn't make you "old"--it makes you wise beyond your years.