Estate planning might sound like dirty words for some people, something they don’t like to think about.
Carl Carlson from Carlson Financial talked with News 3 about some basics and why the planning is important
Most people tend to think estate planning only means the distribution of assets or property. That’s definitely a part of it but Carlson said it also helps to ensure that your intentions or wishes are honored upon passing away.
Aside from assets, it can include making funeral arrangements, end of life decisions, choosing guardians for dependents. You will make things much easier on your heirs and may be able to even avoid the probate process. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy.
Start by looking at the accounts you have: IRAs, checking or savings, brokerage accounts.
You can actually add beneficiaries to almost all types of accounts. One could be named as a beneficiary, the account could be held jointly, or you add a “transfer on death,” or “payable on death” designation to the account. This would allow the accounts to bypass the probate process and to remain accessible during a possible time of need.
Some people ask, if most accounts can be passed outside of a will, then who needs a will?
Carlson said, a will is going to take care of everything else. For many people this could include naming a guardian for their dependents or naming beneficiaries for personal property and affects. Many married couples assume the surviving spouse would automatically be the beneficiary to everything, but this may not be true in all cases.
The difference between a will and a living will is that a living will a statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in the event they aren’t able to make those decisions anymore.
The most common issue it covers is life support and in what circumstances someone would want to be kept on life support. It may be easy to write off and figure that someone else will make that decision when the time comes, but it’s reasonable to assume that a close family member or friend wouldn’t want the burden of having to make such a choice.
People should also think about the assets that will be going through probate. These assets can be frozen or insolvent for a very long period. If there is expected to be an immediate need, they should plan for that and figure out how to provide their loved ones with resources.