In a meeting of rural landowners talking about estate planning, one young man offered a piece of wisdom. He said that one of the best gifts his parents gave him when they died was a well-designed estate plan. His parents’ Wills made probate easy and efficient; they explained how they wanted their assets distributed and helped the siblings avoid conflict. Young adults can give this same gift to spouses, parents, and siblings, but often avoid or postpone this type of planning.
It is understandably hard for a young couple to think about estate planning. They often believe that because they don’t have many assets dying without a Will isn’t a big deal. To the contrary, it is a big deal. When someone dies without a Will, probate costs can be two-to-three times higher than probate with a Will, and that is assuming there is no conflict or challenge. Planning saves assets that may be critical to supporting a young family. Cost savings are not the only benefit – an estate plan can be a powerful tool for protecting your spouse and family. Simple trusts established in the Will shield assets from creditors. Directions in the Will support the surviving spouse or guardian when taking care of young children. Identifying executors and trustees aid mourning parents or spouses by providing them trusted advisors. A good estate plan includes disability planning, achieved through financial and medical powers of attorney. These straight-forward documents enable a spouse or parent to protect assets and provide appropriate care to an adult child or young parent when a serious medical event occurs.
Estate planning is a way to care for loved ones. Having a candid discussion about estate planning with your spouse, friends, or the adult children in our family, moves them toward future security. We urge you to use a trusted advisor for the estate plan, and not an online tool, so that the Will, disability documents, and non-probate tools (such as beneficiary designations on financial accounts) work together to ease the probate process, not confuse it. The attorneys at Braun & Gresham are here to help single people and families achieve their planning goals.