Many American adults do not have an estate plan. The reasons that over half of Americans give for not having estate plans are numerous and varied. Perhaps some people who do not yet have estate plans have not yet made estate planning a priority because they are unaware of the benefits that estate planning can bring into their lives. Today, I would like to explain two ways that any adult can benefit from having an estate plan. These reasons apply to all adults, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or family size, and some of them may surprise you.
The first benefit of estate planning is likely something that you have heard before. Estate planning gives you the freedom to choose what will happen to each of your assets or classes of assets at the end of your life. In the absence of an estate plan, the state of Kansas will distribute your assets according to the laws of intestate succession. When estates pass through intestate succession, it is possible that some of the assets of the deceased will be distributed in a way that they would have chosen for themselves. However, it is also possible that distribution through the laws of intestate succession will have the result that none of the deceased’s assets will go where they would have preferred that they go. Estate planning is the best way to ensure that your assets pass according to your wishes at the end of your life.
When you make a will, you also name an executor. This means that not only are you writing your intentions regarding your assets in an estate planning document; you are also giving authority to a person that you trust to follow the instructions that you have written regarding the disposition of your assets. These two actions work together to ensure that your intentions for your assets are carried out after you pass away.
Your estate planning attorney can help you know what other documents you will need in addition to your will to ensure that all of your assets will go where you intend for them to go. For example, beneficiary designations control the disposition of certain financial assets and trusts enable you to give even more detailed instructions for the use and distribution of the assets that you place in them.
The second benefit of estate planning is that it can help you continue the philanthropic work that you have started during your lifetime. Many people care deeply about one or more causes, from feeding the hungry to promoting literacy to just about any other good work you can imagine. During your lifetime, you may volunteer your time and talents to doing some of these things. You might also give some of your physical or financial resources to others who are doing good works that you want to support. Fortunately, your ability to support philanthropic work does not end when you pass away. Estate planning is a means by which you can direct some of your the physical and financial resources that you own at the time of your death into the hands of the people and organizations who can use them to do the things you want to support.
To learn more about the benefits of estate planning, schedule a no-obligation consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber. Please call our office at 316-265-7802, or connect with us online.