A good estate plan will generally achieve three objectives. First, it helps ensure that your property is distributed the way you desire, which will reduce the emotional stress for you, your family, and loved ones. Second, prudent estate planning reduces the time and money your survivors will spend on settling your affairs. Third, a carefully designed estate plan saves taxes, thus leaving more assets to be distributed to your heirs.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is arranging your affairs by utilizing the pertinent estate laws to carry out your wishes for your property. Estate laws include the laws of taxes, wills, insurance, property, trusts and family law. Estate planning can be as simple as titling assets in joint tenancy or utilizing “POD” accounts with your bank. These are common estate planning techniques that are easy and very inexpensive. However, these very simple procedures have a tendency to exasperate the unanticipated. They do not protect against a joint tenant who does not survive you or if he or she has creditor problems or goes through a divorce. If these problems develop, the inexpensive estate plan can become a financial mess causing litigation and possibly your assets becoming the property of people you did not intend. Fortunately, a Will can solve some of these problems.