While just about everyone loves to tear into wrapping paper for tokens of love, most of us come to realize that some of the very best gifts are actions taken on our behalf. One of the most meaningful of these is estate planning by someone we hold dear. Because many people procrastinate when making complex decisions about the future, particularly those that concern their own mortality, many loved ones suffer from the angst of the unknown. Wouldn’t it be nice this holiday season if you presented your family with a completed estate plan — tied up with a bow or not? Making those closest to you feel secure about the future may bring them more peace of mind than you can imagine.
Estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project, but it requires the assistance of a skilled and highly knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, one with strong credentials, a fine reputation, and a genuine passion for protecting the well-being of clients. Working closely with a talented estate planning/elder law attorney will not only make the process go smoothly and efficiently but will ensure that the documents drafted are unambiguous and legally binding.
What blessings does a well-crafted estate plan provide?
Though less showy than a fur coat or a new computer, less delicious than a box of cordial-filled chocolates, and less entertaining than a jet-ski, an estate plan can provide you and your loved ones with a secure future complete with:
- Provisions for support of your family (including children of a previous marriage)
- Planned saving for retirement
- Asset protection from creditors, excessive taxation, predatory lenders, and scam artists
- Provisions for relatives with special needs to ensure continued eligibility for benefits
- Plans for educational needs of children and grandchildren
- Provisions for future incapacity that maintains eligibility for government benefits
- Provisions to protect spendthrift or addicted heirs from their own worst impulses
- Plans to ensure desired business succession
- Methods to avoid high probate costs
- Preparation for expected and unexpected events, including marriage, divorce, birth, death, accidents, illnesses
- Clearly worded beneficiary designations to avoid family squabbles after you pass away
- Documents to ensure that your wishes regarding end-of-life care and funeral or memorial procedures are followed
- Documents to ensure that you contribute to causes you value (in life and after death)
As experienced estate planning attorneys are well aware, each of the above requires careful consultation and attention to detail. Thought and insight is essential to choosing the right gift for someone you love. This is as true with estate planning as it is with more tangible gifts. That’s why working closely with a competent estate planning attorney is critical to being able to present your relatives with the perfect present. You know your intentions and desires; your attorney knows the law. Together, you will construct a plan that will be an enduring gift to those you love most.