April 3, 2011

The Whys and Wherefores of Estate Planning

Nash&Bean-Curt-colorBy Curt Ford
Nash Nash Bean & Ford

Making an estate plan is one of those things that people tend to put off until there’s an urgent need. There are those few who manage to have a plan in place and update it regularly, whether there’s a crisis on the horizon or not. For most of us though, procrastination seems to be the name of the game. What are people waiting for? Here are seven events that commonly serve as estate-planning prompts:

1. A Wedding. Starting a new life together means that there’s suddenly another person there to take care of. Even for young couples without many assets, putting an incapacity plan in place becomes important, and your first estate plan serves as a foundation as your family expands.

2. A New Baby. Giving birth or adopting a child is a time of joy and excitement. It’s also a time to think about providing for the future of your new bundle of joy. Couples either make or expand their estate plan to name a guardian and to ensure their new child’s financial security.

3. Divorce. A Divorce Decree does not sever all ties between former spouses. After the divorce, there’s usually some estate planning that needs to be done to make sure that an ex-spouse does not unintentionally inherit property.

4. Travel. Everyone loves a vacation, but there seems to be something about the thought of traveling long distances – and especially flying – that reminds us of our mortality. Going on vacation makes people want to tie up loose ends, and often prompts estate planning. This is especially true for parents of young children, who want to make sure that a guardian is named and their children are provided for.

5. The Death of a Loved One. When death hits close to home, it makes us think about the inevitable. And witnessing the chaos and heartache that can result when a loved one passes away with no estate plan is a strong incentive to put one’s own affairs in order before it’s too late.

6. Illness. Serious illness is an all-too-common reason for estate planning. Unfortunately, waiting for an emergency situation like this can lead to rush decisions and unintended consequences. And, think about how much additional time could be spent on more important things, like enjoying family and friends, if an estate plan were already in place.

7. Legal Changes. Congress moves in mysterious ways. Laws affecting estates, particularly tax laws, change frequently. This can mean opportunities for those who pay attention, and new laws are a common reason for people to update their estate plans.

While these are all good and legitimate reasons to make an estate plan, you shouldn’t wait for one of these events before you put a plan in place. The reason for estate planning is to make sure your loved ones are provided for in the event of your death or your incapacity. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow…if you passed away today, what future would your loved ones face?

Nash Nash Bean & Ford are members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. To receive a copy of our most recent newsletter “Your Estate Matters,” or for a free consultation on Estate or Long Term Care Planning, call (309) 944-2188, (309) 762-9368 or 1-800-644-5345. You may also contact our firm by email at info@nashbeanford.com or visit our web site at http://www.nashbeanford.com.

The firm devotes its practice primarily in the areas of estate, business and tax planning and related areas of the law, as well as elder law and trust administration and
probate. We offer guidance and advice to our clients in every area of estate planning.

This column is designed for general information purposes only, and is not intended, nor should be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult your attorney if specific legal information is desired.

Curt Bean is an attorney at Nash Nash Bean & Ford. He can be reached at (309) 944-2188 or (309) 762-9368 or at info@nashbeanford.com

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