What is Estate Planning?
It can be a tough subject to think about, and it’s more than understandable to feel saddened or push it to the bottom of your priority list. However, estate planning is a crucial step in securing your family’s and/or business’ future. We know it can be overwhelming for many people to contemplate where to start and what to include, so we’ve compiled an overview of what estate planning is to help you get started.
This blog explains what estate planning is, who needs to make an estate plan, and what can happen if you don’t have one. For further information or to get started on your own estate plan, contact estate planning attorney Jonathan Mishkin at J Mishkin Law today.
What is an Estate?
You may think of expansive acreage, tennis courts, and a sprawling mansion when you think of an estate. Or maybe you imagine a busy surgeon’s bank account, or a family trust with millions to spare. While these certainly are examples of what an estate can be, they’re just that: examples. In fact, nearly everybody has an estate.
Your estate is comprised of everything you own, including your home, car, furniture, and everything down to each of your personal possessions. They mean it when they say “you can’t take it with you”, which is why estate planning is necessary.
All of your possessions, including your money, has to go somewhere when you die. No matter how modest or how large, it’s all going to go somewhere. Estate planning ensures your wishes are carried out so that every dollar, every piece of furniture, and every family heirloom goes where you’ve always intended it to go.
What is an Estate Plan and Why Do I Need One?
Estate planning encompasses all of the above plus more. It’s making a plan in advance for your possessions and funds, but also for you yourself should you become ill and need care. It’s best for everybody involved, yourself included, that all of your instructions are written and documented according to the law.
Everybody needs an estate plan, regardless of their wealth. Even if you think your estate isn’t worth much, it can be worth more than you think, both monetarily and sentimentally. For business owners, you should also include business succession planning so that your wishes for your business can be carried out as well.
If you don’t have an estate plan in place and you become ill or pass away, everything that belonged to you becomes tied up in red tape which makes it more difficult for your family members and/or business successors to access. Additionally, a lack of planning can mean more of your estate funds go to taxes, court costs, and other associated legal fees.
Estate planning is an ongoing process, rather than a solitary document prepared on a single occasion. As you age you will typically acquire more possessions, real estate, and money, and in many cases also new friends and family members. This means that over time your wishes may change as well, which requires you to update your estate plan.
What Does Estate Planning Include?
As each person and their assets and relationships vary widely, so does estate planning. Your plan will be tailored to you during your discussions with your attorney. Generally, estate planning typically includes:
- Instructions for your care should you become ill
- Arrangements for disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, and/or life insurance
- Instructions for transferring your business when it comes time to do so, whether by retirement or otherwise
- Naming a guardian for your child/ren
- Providing for family members with special needs in a way that retains their eligibility for government benefits
- Providing for any other loved ones
Having an estate plan in place secures your possessions, money, or business go to the people, places, or charities you wish them to. Additionally, estate planning ensures your taxes and court costs are kept to a minimum and that your loved ones will be aware of your plans, reducing their stress in an already difficult time.
Ready to Start Estate Planning?
If you’ve been considering making an estate plan, there’s no time like the present. Jonathan Mishkin is an estate planning attorney with offices in Portland, West Linn, and Bend, and has many years of experience in executing these plans for people of all ages, family types, and professions. To get your estate planning underway, contact J Mishkin Law today.