Estate planning, like most things in life, involves some degree of risk. It would be unwise to think that estate planning creates a situation in which every single element of your plan will be executed flawlessly after you pass away. However, the risks associated with estate planning are much, much smaller than the risks associated with not having any estate plan at all. When you engage in estate planning, there are things that you can do along the way to reduce risk and increase the likelihood that your estate will be administered successfully, or at least mostly so.
Having no estate plan leaves the disposition of your real and personal property, everything you own, up to the laws of intestate succession and the probate court. The wealth, real estate, and other things that you worked hard to acquire could end up in the hands of people that you want them to, but then again, they might not. Taking the crucial step of engaging in even the most basic estate planning activity – writing a will – reduces the risk that your property will end up in the hands of people that you never intended to have it.
Some of the risks associated with estate planning are more difficult to manage than others. For example, the value of some of your assets may be dependent on their interest rate. Certain types of annuities and some trusts can perform differently depending upon when you pass away. Death dates and interest rates are not easily predicted, but does that mean that you’re better off avoiding all assets that carry an interest rate or all types of estate planning tools that perform differently depending upon when you die? Probably not. Instead of writing these things off altogether, consult with a financial professional and your estate planning attorney and ask them what they think about whether any of those things would help you meet your estate planning goals.
If you are not sure that you understand the risks that are associated with your investments or with your estate plan, ask. Your estate planning attorney and financial advisor are knowledgeable about the products and documents they deal with, and part of their work is helping you understand how the various items in your estate plan and your financial portfolio work for you individually and as a whole. Take time to learn about and understand what it is that you have in each of your plans and why so that you can be confident that you have made estate and financial plans that meet your needs.
Also, estate tax laws, tax laws, and other financial factors change from year to year. This is a risk inherent in investing and in estate planning, but it can be significantly minimized by checking in with your financial advisor and estate planner every few years or upon the occurrence of major life changes. Think of these visits as checkups for the health of your financial and estate plans that help you stay on track towards your financial and estate planning goals just like regular doctor visits help you achieve and maintain your health and wellness goals.
If you need to get started on your estate plan or reassess an estate plan that you have already started, Schedule a consultation with Wichita estate planning attorney J. Joseph Weber today, at (316) 265-7802. Alternately, you may contact us online for your convenience.