Each family or individual is unique and may consult with an estate planning attorney for any number of reasons. However, there are some reasons that are particularly common and extremely important to many, if not most, clients.
Avoiding Probate is by far the most common reason why people seek out the advice of an estate planning attorney. While many have never even dealt with probate, they still know one thing – they want to avoid it at all costs. This stems from probate horror stories covered by the media or told by neighbors, friends or business associates. Suffice it to say that for the vast majority of people, avoiding probate is a very good reason for creating an estate plan and can be easily achieved.
Avoiding a Mess
Many clients seek the advice of an estate planning attorney after personally experiencing, or seeing a close friend or business associate experience, a significant waste of time and money due to a loved one’s failure to make an estate plan. Choosing someone to be in charge if you become incapacitated and after you die and deciding who will get what, when they will get it, and how they will get it after you’re gone will go a long way towards avoiding family fights and costly probate court proceedings.
There are generally two main reasons why people put together an estate plan in order to protect their beneficiaries: (a) Protecting minor beneficiaries, and/or (b) Protecting adult beneficiaries from bad decisions, outside influences, creditor problems and divorcing spouses. If the beneficiary is a minor, all 50 states have laws that require a guardian or conservator to be appointed to oversee the minor’s needs and finances until the minor becomes a legal adult, usually at age 18.
Lately, asset protection planning has become a very important reason why many people, including those who already have an estate plan, are meeting with their estate planning attorney. Once you know or even just suspect that a lawsuit is on the horizon, it’s too late to put a plan in place to protect your assets. Instead, you need to start with a sound financial plan and couple that with a comprehensive estate plan that will, in turn, protect your assets for the benefit of both you during your lifetime and your beneficiaries after your death.
This is an excerpt from “5 Reasons you need an estate plan” by Julie Garber originally posted on The Balance.