No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Although it can be a rather dismal subject to discuss, we are all going to die one day. When this inevitable event happens, wouldn’t you want all the things you worked for your entire life to stay in your family? This is why creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the best and most important things you can do for your family.
It is a common misconception that estate plans are only for wealthy families. Let’s face it, the word “estate” in and of itself often brings images of mansions, cars and stock portfolios. Yet, having a comprehensive estate plan in place can ensure that your loved ones are cared for and will have less to worry about when you are gone. Here are a few reasons why an estate plan is beneficial for nearly every Maryland family, no matter how much or how little you own.
More than just a will
Wills and estate plans both give directions for how to distribute your assets and possessions after you die. However, estate planning covers so much more. A will can be part of an estate plan, but a comprehensive plan can also include trusts, durable powers of attorney, beneficiary designations and medical directives to outline what should happen if you become incapacitated.
Save time and money
If you die without a plan in place, state laws will determine what happens to your property and assets in a court process known as probate. Probate is a lengthy process that involves court appearances by attorneys and a lot of paperwork. The probate process can take months, and, since the estate typically pays the legal fees, it is often costly for surviving family members. A comprehensive estate plan can help you avoid the probate process, thus saving your family much time, money and headache.
Protect your children
In an estate plan, you can designate who will get custody of your children if you die without a surviving spouse. If both you and your spouse were to die without a plan in place, the probate court would appoint a legal guardian for your children, which is typically a family member such as a grandparent. However, if there are no family members and a third party doesn’t step up, your children could enter the foster care system.
Help with estate planning
We will all die one day, so planning for it only makes sense. Like many other people, you may have procrastinated with the task of estate planning or think it’s something only necessary for older individuals or wealthy families. Keep in mind that, while it is never too early to start planning, it can be too late. It’s dangerous to assume that you can get to it later. Fortunately, there is help readily available for anyone who has questions or is ready to create a plan to secure the future for their family.