How to Choose the Best Estate Plan for You and Your Family
Not having an estate plan is like not having an emergency plan. When the worst happens, you want to make sure you and your family are protected. Many people think estate planning is just about having a will, but in reality, it can involve other decisions and legal protections, too.
Tips for Estate Planning
Everyone needs an estate plan. Even if your estate is very small and your situation is straightforward, you’ll need a will, a power of attorney to protect you if you can’t make decisions for yourself and a document to indicate your wishes for end of life decisions. If you have any property at all, estate planning ensures your property goes where you want it to. It also ensures your wishes are respected if you are seriously injured.
Estate Planning Tips for Non-Traditional Families
If you are living with your partner but are not married, your partner does not have the same rights as a spouse. You will need a will to ensure your partner gets your assets and property. Without it, your immediate family, such as parents or siblings, are more likely to receive your property. You may also want to sign a power of attorney to ensure your partner can make decisions for you if you are seriously injured or cannot make decisions for yourself.
Similarly, if you have step-children, your will and estate plan will need to reflect that fact. You may need to appoint a guardian if the children are minors. Otherwise, a court may decide who will take care of your step-children. In addition, without a will, your step-children may not be granted any of your property, either. Proper estate planning ensures everyone in a blended family is provided for.
If you have a child with special needs, you may need a special needs trust to bequeath your estate and to ensure your child gets the best care even if you’re gone. Without a special needs trust, your children may have some of their government benefits taken away, and you may not have a say in who provides for them.
Estate Planning Strategies for Business Owners
If you own a business, you need to decide who will take care of it. If you are the owner of the business, you may need a succession plan so someone takes over your company after you’re gone. Even if you have a business partner, you may want a succession plan or buyout plan in place.
Estate Planning Checklist
If you are considering your estate plan, keep these steps in mind:
- Draw up a will
- Create a Power of Attorney in case of incapacity
- Create a living will for end of life decisions
- Name beneficiaries on your insurance plans
- Name beneficiaries on your IRA, 401K or other retirement documents
- Buy life insurance or preplan and prepay your funeral
- Discuss your plans and preferences with your family
- Consider trusts or succession/buyout plans, depending on your situation
If you have questions or are ready to create an estate plan that works for you, contact MPL Law. With more than 30 years of experience in estate planning in York, PA and the surrounding region, our attorneys can help you design a personalized plan to respect your wishes and protect your family.