When is the Right Time to Create an Estate Plan? Now!

A common fallacy about estate planning is that creating an estate plan is a form of planning for death.  The reality is, there is no “Right Time” to create an estate plan, because you never know when you might need it and not having one can be risky business.

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One of the most commonly believed fallacies about estate planning is that creating a plan is a form of planning for death and, as long as you are young or healthy, estate planning is not an immediate priority. Nothing could be further from the truth! As one April 20, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal reminds readers, “There’s no time like the present to make sure all your estate-planning ducks are in a row.”

Why is this so important and so urgent? Because estate planning is much more than establishing what happens after you die; it is also about documenting a clear set of instructions for what happens if you’re still alive and cannot speak for yourself.

That’s why some estate planning needs are universal. If you are in a serious accident and suffer major injuries that prevent you from managing your affairs, or perhaps from communicating at all, you need to have the proper documents already in place that give the person you want the authority to pay your bills, manage your investments, approve needed medical procedures or even authorize the termination of life-prolonging medical care.

With no plan in place, both you and your assets could be in significant risk. With no will, your assets will be distributed at your death according to your state’s intestacy laws. These laws may give part (or all) of your wealth to an estranged relative, and will definitely give your loved ones to whom you’re not related (either by blood or marriage) absolutely nothing. With no powers of attorney in place, your family may be forced to go to court and pursue a legal guardianship or conservatorship, which can be expensive and stressful, just to make decisions on your behalf. Your doctors may be forced to continue providing you with life-extending care, even though you have no hope of recovery and such care is against your wishes, if you don’t have a living will.

So, why is estate planning important? Because it gives you the ability to take control of a great many decisions both during life and after death. And why act now? Because no one knows for certain what the future may hold, and only a proper plan can give you the assurance that, whatever tomorrow brings, you’ll be prepared and your family will be protected.

This article is published by the Legacy Assurance Plan of America and is intended for general informational purposes only. Some information may not apply to your situation. It does not, nor is it intended, to constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney regarding any specific questions about probate, living probate or other estate planning matters. Legacy Assurance Plan is an estate planning services company and is not a lawyer or law firm and is not engaged in the practice of law. For more information about this and other estate planning matters visit our website at www.legacyassuranceplan.com

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Legacy Assurance Plan Of America – Minimizing Your Chances of Estate Plan Challenges

A 20th Century American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, composed something many now know as the “Serenity Prayer,” in which the speaker seeks “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” Estate planning can be a lot like that. One of the keys to success in estate planning is to plan to avoid the problems that are preventable, to understand that not all problems are avoidable, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Legacy assurance plan For Estate planning

While you cannot always prevent people from mounting legal challenges to your estate plan, you can take steps to minimize the odds of that event happening. This is particularly true if your plan includes some less than “cookie-cutter” provisions, such as unequal distributions between children or grandchildren. One of the keys to reducing this risk of a challenge is communication. If you are leaving uneven distributions, sit down with your family and explain why you crafted the plan as you did. Alternately, you may consider documenting on paper the reasons for your decisions, so that the trustee of your trust or executor of your will has evidence in the event of a legal contest.

Legacy Assurance Plan of America

Your estate plan is your legacy, so it should reflect your desires and objectives. However, if your loved ones better understand why you made the choices you did, it may help them be more accepting and less likely to go to court.

Another way to minimize the risk of challenge resulting from unequal distributions is to make gifts during your lifetime. If you have a loved one whom you believe deserves or needs a larger share of your wealth, you can make that happen outside your will or trust. Giving gifts to that loved one during your lifetime can offer multiple benefits, as it may allow you to create unequal total distributions while maintaining equal distributions within your will or trust, and it may also offer your some tax benefits, as well.

Additionally, you can use a negative financial motivator to attempt to reduce the chances of a challenge. You may include a “no contest” clause in your plan. This clause is language that says that a beneficiary who undertakes a legal contest to your plan forfeits the right to receive his/her distribution he/she otherwise would have received under your plan. Be aware, though, these clause are not legally enforceable in all states.

Legacy Assurance plan For Estate Challenges

Finally, an essential key to minimizing the risk of a court battle is to work with experienced legal professionals. Your experienced estate planning team can give you the advice you need to make sure that your plan is as “contest-proof” as it can be.

Summary: The estate plan you create is your legacy Assurance plan  and should reflect the estate planning goals you want to accomplish. Sometimes, a loved one may not agree with your goals and may seek to contest your plan in court after you die. While you cannot erect a plan that is completely “contest-proof”, you can take steps to minimize this risk. Your estate planning legal professional can help you understand your options for reducing this potential hazard.