Okay, So What is Estate Planning?
Regardless of our wealth, social status or stage of life, we all have assets that will eventually comprise an estate. It’s the total of everything we own – our homes, cars, investments, bank accounts, furniture, personal possessions, even the socks in our drawers. Everything that we think of as ‘ours’ comprises our estate.
So what is estate planning? As a simple definition, estate planning is our opportunity to decide (today) how those things will be shared with others when we eventually pass away. It’s the chance we have to make these decisions ourselves.
Does Everyone Need an Estate Plan?
Yes, and many misconceptions still exist.
Some of us think we’re not wealthy enough to need an estate plan, but that confuses potential tax issues with our chance to share our estate the way we’d like. It can also help minimize legal fees and court costs, too. Good planning can actually mean more to families of modest means, since they can afford to lose the least. Other reasons for delaying estate planning include thinking we’re not old enough, are too busy, or just don’t realize why it’s so important.
Wait…You Mean I’ve Already Got an Estate Plan?
Well, strictly speaking, Yes! Since no one could ever guess another person’s wishes, Colorado (like every state) has created a formula to distribute the assets for anyone who dies without a valid plan. It’s part of each state’s Intestacy law. But rarely does this formula represent a person’s true wishes.
Why? Because no single formula could ever anticipate the vast array of family dynamics, trusted friends, or even a connect to Arapahoe Community College—all of whom a person might like to benefit in differing ways.
The Intestacy formula is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to distribute assets whenever a person dies without an estate plan. It will be used to settle your estate, but probably not in the ways you might hope or imagine.
Well, hopefully this overview helps identify the need for a good estate plan. Looking forward, here are a few things to consider:
1. If you don’t have an attorney, consider finding one. Ask families members or friends and neighbors if they have an attorney they trust. Many attorneys will offer a complimentary first visit to help you identify your needs, understand their fees, etc. Pick someone you can trust.
2. The first part is a Will or Living Trust. Again, it’s your chance to decide how your assets will be shared with those you love.
3. In addition, a few other documents can be part of an estate plan.
· Medical Directive – Appoints someone to make your healthcare decisions, if you cannot
· Financial Power of Attorney – Appoints someone to make financial decisions, if necessary
· Living Will – Your wishes about potential end-of-life measures
4. Please note that not all assets transfer through a Will or Living Trust. Some may be transferred via beneficiary designation (IRA, life insurance) or other arrangement (real estate deed). A careful review these assets is another important step.
5. Finally, please don’t put it off. It’s not just about your peace of mind. Life is unpredictable and a sound estate plan is one of the best gifts you can leave for those you love.
For more information about the Forever ACC Society, please contact Courtney Loehfelm at Courtney.firstname.lastname@example.org or 720.440.4666. There is never any expectation or obligation to complete a gift.