When you hear the word “estate,” a fancy home on sprawling acres of land may come to mind. However, an estate actually refers to a person’s assets. Almost everyone has an estate of some kind. If you own a house, a car, stock in a company, or even money in the bank, you have assets to delineate. You may not be wealthy, but that does not mean you shouldn’t think about to whom you will entrust your valuable possessions should something happen to you.
There are several reasons why estate planning is important. You will be in control of who inherits your assets, known as beneficiaries, and how your assets are managed. You may have loved ones who can not be counted on to responsibly manage stock accounts or real estate. That’s why you want to be able to decide who inherits which assets. Additionally, with an estate plan, there are several strategies you can utilize to reduce the amount your heirs will owe in taxes on their inheritance from you. Most importantly, within your estate plan, you will draft a will where you designate legal guardians for your children and specify how you want your children to be raised.
If you don’t choose beneficiaries for your assets, the state will step in and give out your assets based on legal criteria, potentially excluding loved ones. If no one fits the criteria for particular assets, the government itself will take control of them. If you have children and don’t leave a will, the courts will get to decide who takes care of your children and you will have no say in how they are raised.
At Weinstein, Chase, Messinger, and Peters, we will help you put together an estate plan that makes sense for you and your family. You can always adapt and add to your estate plan over time. Give us a call no matter your stage of life. It is never too early to start planning for the future.