What is Estate Planning and Why Should You Do It?

June 5, 2017
Jonathan J. Russell

What Is Estate Planning?

What on earth is estate planning? Many people don’t have a clue. Estate planning sounds like a rich person’s concern. However, estate planning is not only for the rich. It is also important for people with limited assets.

Everyone has an Estate, and Everyone Should Make Plans to Protect It.

So, what is estate planning? Everyone no matter how rich or poor has an estate. Your estate is made up of all the things you own. Your house, car, financial accounts, insurance accounts, jewelry, furniture, clothes, and pets are all part of your estate. Estate planning assumes that (at some point) you will no longer be able to make decisions about your things or how you will provide for the people you love.  So, estate planning allows you to decide in advance what you will give away, who will get your things, when they will get your them, and even what they have to do in order to get them. Estate planning also lets you plan how you and your loved ones will be protected when you become incapacitated. You can decide what end of life care you will receive, you can plan who will get your money, and you can protect your family from future creditors and unwise spending.

A Simple Example: How Estate Planning Can Help Rufus.

Let’s consider a simple example of estate planning. Imagine you have a beloved golden retriever named Rufus. What would happen to Rufus if something happened to you? Estate planning would allow you to give Rufus to your niece if you could no longer care for him. You know that your niece is also a dog lover, and you know that she would love and take care of Rufus.

Your estate plan could say that your niece could only have Rufus if she is 18 years old, or she could only keep Rufus if she promised to give him regular vet check-ups. You could also set money aside to pay for Rufus’s vet and food bills. This way, your niece would not be burdened by Rufus’s health care. You could even encourage your niece to keep and take good care of Rufus by giving her money so long as she took good care of Rufus. In this case, both you and Rufus can have peace of mind that he will be taken care of even if you can no longer take care of him.

However, without estate planning, Rufus might go to someone else in your family who hates dogs. He might not get the vet care he needs. After all, not everyone sets money aside for costly pet care. And, worse of all, your family may simply put poor Rufus in the pound if they they like cats better. Here, you and Rufus have reason to worry about his future safety and welfare.

Estate Planning Protects Those We Love.

Estate planning protects all the people and things that we love. Some people have children, and other people care for the adults in their lives. Estate planning makes sure that these people will be provided for when you can no longer provide for them. And estate planning can ensure that your legacy (your business or your belongings) will be protected into the future.

Estate Planning is For Everyone.

Estate planning is not just for older people. Life is uncertain and short for everyone. Also, estate planning is not only for the wealthy. A simple estate plan is affordable for most people, and it can ensure that the people you love, the things you have worked for, and your future self are all cared for and protected.

You Want To Make Your Own Choices, Or the State Will.

So, what happens if I don’t have a plan? If you do not make a plan for yourself, then the State will decide how you and your family will be treated. In general, the law tries to provide for your closest living family members first. However, the laws can make it so that your family is not left with enough money to live on anymore. Also, you may not want some of your close family members to get your belongings. Unfortunately, even some adult family members should not be trusted with sudden cash flows due to issues like drug abuse, compulsive spending, incompetence, or etc.

We Can Help You Protect your Future and Your Family.

Each family is different and has specific needs. This is why everyone needs to do estate planning for their family. The lawyers at Drake Hileman & Davis have been designing comprehensive estate plans for our clients for more than three decades.  We offer a personal touch to help you make the best decisions for your family. We will get to know you, and we will lead you through the entire estate planning process. Our goal is to maximize the asset protection for your family and to ultimately give you greater peace of mind about the future.

Our competent and knowledgeable attorneys are ready to help you develop the best plan for your estate needs.  In addition to developing a plan, we let you at the beginning the cost associated with your particular estate planning documents which define your plan, as well as clear direction regarding each step of the process.  Please feel free to call us now at: (215) 348-2088, in order to schedule a free estate planning consultation.