Most people realize that they need to create an inheritance plan; however, a surprising percentage of those people have yet to do so. People offer a number of explanations for why they have yet to sit down and create an inheritance plan, but one of the most commonly expressed reasons is the belief that they don’t need one yet. If you are among those who have yet to start your inheritance planning because you are under the impression it isn’t needed at this point in your life, you may wish to read on.
What Is Inheritance Planning?
At its most basic, inheritance planning, also known as “estate planning,” refers to the process of using legal tools and strategies to decide how your estate assets will be distributed upon your death. When most people think of a basic inheritance plan, therefore, they think about executing a Last Will and Testament. A Will certainly can provide for the distribution of your estate assets when you are gone; however, it is not the only option. Furthermore, a comprehensive estate plan does much more than simply create a roadmap for the division of your assets. A well thought out estate plan can also protect and help grow those assets during your lifetime, plan for the possibility of your own incapacity, and ensure that your loved ones are provided for after you are gone.
Why Do I Need an Inheritance Plan?
There are several reasons why you should have an inheritance plan in place. The easiest way to explain the need for estate planning is to contemplate what could happen in the absence of an estate plan. Imagine, for example, that you were to become incapacitated tomorrow – something that is more likely to occur than you probably realize. If that happened, who would take over control of your assets and ensure that your bills are paid and your investments protected? Who would make healthcare and personal decisions for you during your incapacity? In the absence of a comprehensive estate plan, the answers to these questions are unknown because without your prior planning and consent, no one has the authority to make any decisions for you nor to take over control of your estate. Now imagine that the worst happens, and you die tomorrow. What will happen to your cherished family heirlooms? What about the charities you wanted to donate to from your estate? The most important question of all…If you have a minor child, who will be the child’s Guardian? Without at least a basic Will in place, the distribution of your estate assets will be determined by the intestate succession laws of the State of New York, meaning that only very close relatives will inherit from your estate. As for a Guardian for your child, if one is needed a judge will have to make the decision without your input because your Will is the only opportunity you have to tell a judge who you would appoint as your child’s Guardian.
When Do I Need to begin Inheritance Planning?
Hopefully, it is becoming clear at this point that every adult needs an inheritance plan. The net worth of your estate is not what determines the need for estate planning nor does your age. Almost everyone owns something that matters to them. Absent an inheritance plan you have no say with regard to who will receive your assets when you are gone. As you have also learned, however, the distribution of your estate assets is often not the most important aspect of inheritance planning. Planning for your own incapacity and/or for your children’s well-being is reason enough to get started on your inheritance plan now.
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns about Inheritance planning, or wish to get started on your inheritance planning, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.