No one really wants to think about their own death or getting so sick or injured that they can’t take care of themselves. The natural aversion to thinking about those unpleasant situations can lead to procrastination.
Failing to sit down and make a plan is arguably the most common issue that people have with estate planning. They see it as more inconvenient than beneficial, but the truth is that estate planning can benefit you and your loved ones in multiple ways.
1) It gives you control over your legacy
If you die without a last will or estate plan, the Pennsylvania probate courts will distribute your assets according to state laws. Your spouse and children will have primary inheritance rights. Those who aren’t married to their partner or who have unique relationships may not be able to provide for the people they love if they die without a last will.
2) It can help you avoid taxes
Estate planning ensures that as much of your property as possible goes to the people you intend instead of to the government. If your estate is worth quite a bit, estate taxes could take up to 40% of what you leave behind. Planning ahead of time can shield your estate from taxation.
3) It protects your property from creditor claims
If you die with debt, the law requires that your executor repay all of your debts before they distribute any property to your family members. Those who have major medical events prior to their death could have so much debt that they leave nothing for the people they love unless they plan ahead of time to protect certain assets.
4) It protects your children from the worst kind of vulnerability
No one wants to think about their children becoming orphans. In fact, few people even use the word orphan anymore. Still, there are children who lose their parents while still young and who become wards of the state if nobody else steps up to care for them. Your estate plan can name a guardian for your children and also set aside assets for them.
5) It gives you financial and medical control after an emergency
A good estate plan is more than just a last will. It also includes other documents which take effect if you become incapacitated due to injury or illness. With powers of attorney, advanced medical directives and similar documents, you can leave instructions regarding your medical wishes and authorize someone to handle your personal finances or small business when you can’t speak for yourself but aren’t dead.
6) It makes things easier for the people you love when times are tough
Having a loved one unconscious in the hospital or suddenly taken from you is hard enough to handle. When you combine that with the pressure of making decisions on their behalf or trying to navigate family conflict because there’s no last will, those situations can become nightmares.
Your estate plan can’t protect your loved ones from suffering due to your death or medical condition, but it can provide them with comfort, guidance and crucial resources that can make this difficult time just a bit easier.