Whitney Mediation & Legal Counsel, LLC

The Ultimate Guide to Estate Planning Basics for Older Adults

Thinking about our future can often feel overwhelming. Many of us still have much we want to accomplish with our lives. Our goal is to achieve a better standard of living for ourselves and our families. Among all the demands of everyday life, it’s easy for something like estate planning to feel like an additional stressor.

But estate planning–far from being a stressor–is actually the solution to much of the worry about our future. It is the process of creating a balance between what you have now and what you want for your future by setting long and short-term goals

Estate planning helps us to secure our ideal future by protecting our hard-earned assets and providing for our needs in the later years of life.

The following articles will help you learn more about estate planning – including what to consider when creating your estate plan, ways to minimize legal risks, and tools to help you organize your affairs.

What is an Estate Plan? Why do I Need One?

Estate planning entails a collection of documents that define how assets will be distributed upon your death or incapacitation. In some special cases it can even be of use during your lifetime. Alternatively, you can refer to this legal document as your testamentary trust, will, or estate plan.

Many of us don’t give much thought to the need for an estate plan until we are much older, and some of us never create one at all. Perhaps we don’t think about estate planning because we feel we are still a long way from death. Perhaps the thought of our own passing makes us uncomfortable and it’s a topic we’d rather avoid.

A solid estate plan, however, ensures that your desires for the distribution of your assets and the welfare of your loved ones are met as soon as possible after your death. Death being one of life’s certainties, without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to state law, which may or may not be according to your wishes. This can lead to otherwise avoidable conflict and monetary costs for those who hope to inherit your assets.

Here’s your Ultimate Guide to Estate Planning Basics:

Your estate plan should meet your unique needs and the needs of those you care about. It may also be necessary to alter your estate plan to meet changing needs and life circumstances. You will want to review it from time to time to ensure it still represents your best interests. 

 Who Needs an Estate Plan?

In reality, everyone needs an estate plan. Though they will differ depending on age, assets, family situation, and financial goals, an estate plan will prevent unwanted legal disputes and much heartache after you die.

One of the foundations of estate planning is to ensure that your wishes are followed as closely as possible when you die. As soon as you were born, you received a Social Security number given to you throughout your life. The same thing applies to our finances.

The Power of Smart Planning

An estate plan is the best way to provide for your family and loved ones, protect their financial future, and maintain peace of mind after your death.

Once you have created your estate plan, you can feel confident about your decisions and know that your estate plan will guide your loved ones after you pass away.

It’s a smart move to plan so that you can protect your family members in case of an accident or illness. It helps ensure that the assets you create are distributed according to your wishes.

An estate plan will give everyone involved peace of mind and help reduce chaos after a death or disability.

 Estate Planning Helps You Save Money (and Taxes) Up Front 

There are many ways to save money on taxes. One of them is to make sure all of your gifts are properly funded with a properly drafted estate plan.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to have an estate plan. There are ways to save money on estate planning, including using existing assets or paying for them with your estate. You can use the following ideas :

Organizational tools or your creativity to brainstorm new ways to save money on your estate plan.

Planning costs will diminish your overall tax burden and leave more funds for you and your family after you die.

Estate Planning Can Reduce Legal Risk

It is common to view legal action as threatening and stressful. You may be worried that having an estate plan could bring unwanted attention to your family – or even create criminal liability or tax problems. But estate planning can reduce these kinds of risks.

An efficient estate plan can minimize these legal risks and help your family avoid them altogether, keeping the focus on you as the person who matters most.

Estate Planning Will Help Protect Your Family and Your Assets

Having a solid estate plan will help your family focus on positive memories and not deal with an unexpected death’s emotional and financial consequences.

An estate plan provides a sense of security for your family. They will know what to do, who to call, and when to take action.

It will Help You Leave a Legacy for Your Family.

The best thing about estate planning is that it can help your family leave a legacy. It helps them understand your true wishes and prevents the surprise of unplanned change. Planning can save your loved ones time and money, keeping you in the public eye after you pass away. 

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that there are many different ways to plan for the future. You do not need to follow the same estate planning steps everyone else does. Thinking about your future and planning for it is part of critical thinking.

To back up your estate plan:

  • Choose a will, a common trust, a revocable living trust, a power of attorney, a life insurance policy, a health care directive, or another estate planning document.
  • Be sure you understand the benefits and limitations of each type.
  • Remember that you are doing this to ensure that your wishes are followed after you die, not to have the documents themselves.

Be a smart planner and choose an estate plan to meet your unique needs.

Author Bio

Andrea Gibbs is the Content Manager at SpringHive Web Agency, a company that offers web design services, maintenance, and Internet marketing. She specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. She also serves as a blog contributor at Serenity Senior Care. She’s an avid personal development enthusiast and an expert in the field of health and fitness. When she’s not writing she can be found running hills or hiking trails, rooting for her favorite team (the Pittsburgh Steelers), or watching a good Netflix series.

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