If you’re like most Americans, your day probably consists of eating, working, and squeezing in a bit of precious family time before you collapse into bed. Then you wake up to do it all over again. Sometimes, when you’re entrenched in day-to-day life, it’s hard to think about the future. For the sake of your family, however, it is vital that you face the difficult possibilities ahead, such as disability or death, and develop a strategy to help your loved ones maintain their quality of life in your absence.
What if you die suddenly due to an accident or an undetected medical condition? Suppose you experience a trauma that leaves you mentally incapacitated, unable to care for your family or support them financially? If you don’t have a backup plan in place, your family will be left scrambling to make ends meet while struggling with legal paperwork.
Without estate planning, your estate may have to endure higher taxes. Your family will have to go to court to determine custody of your children, if they are still minors. If you do not have a legal will that the court accepts, a judge is the one to dole out your assets according to Maryland law rather than your personal wishes. The judge also decides when the inheritance portions are doled out and who gets to manage the entire estate. Since the judge is unfamiliar with your family or estate, it’s likely that some of the decisions will not be what you would have chosen.
Does that sound like a nightmare? Fortunately, you can prevent all of that confusion and complication with estate planning.
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Estate planning may seem like an abstract concept or confusing, but it is composed of several basic elements that are easy to understand. With a comprehensive estate plan, drawn up by an attorney, you will leave instructions for all of your assets. You can designate which items and portions go to which individuals. You can appoint someone to take care of your finances if you are mentally unable to do so. You can even set up provisions for your minor children. If there are gaps in your life insurance or other insurance policies, take time to close those loopholes.
In addition, with the help of a lawyer, you can find ways to minimize the amount of tax that your estate has to pay. That way, you reserve as much of your financial assets as possible for your loved ones’ use, rather than the government’s use.
Estate planning may not be fun, but getting it done is extremely satisfying. Once you have everything in order, you can get back to your normal life, secure in the knowledge that the people you care about will have what they need for the future.
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About Nicole K. White
After losing a close relative, Nicole witnessed the devastation, enormous expense and chaos caused by not having a comprehensive estate plan. It is Nicole’s mission to educate parents, especially single parents, about protecting themselves, their families, minor children, and assets with comprehensive Estate Planning.