The year 2020 made everyone think about their own mortality, which made estate planning a hot topic last year. And, as this year has started off much like last year has ended, estate planning is still a hot topic. However, many worry about the expense.
Who needs an estate plan?
In a word, everyone. Remember, estate plans include living wills (advance directive), powers of attorney, traditional wills, etc. It is not just about property division; it is about how one wants to be treated when they cannot make their own medical decision and even what one wants to happen to their body once they pass. This is why everyone needs an estate plan.
However, even though it is so important and has been such a hot topic last year and this year, less than a third of us have even drafted one such document, according to a survey by Caring.com and YouGov at least. Unfortunately, cost may be a factor in this.
An attorney driven estate plan
The gold standard of estate planning is consulting an attorney. And, the truth is, the costs are always outweighed by the benefits. For example, for a young person without many assets, one can expect very little expense. This is because this young person will only need a simple will. Of course, as the assets and age increase, the estate planning instruments can become more and more complicated, and the fees also would increase. However, remember, having a legally enforceable estate plan ensure that it is actually followed.
The unintended costs of poor or no estate planning
Essentially, there are three goals to an estate plan, ensure that one’s wishes are carried out, skip probate and avoid as much taxes as possible. Without an estate plan, one’s wishes cannot be carried out, one’s heirs must go through the probate process and maximum taxes will be withdrawn from one’s estate. This is a worst-case scenario. But, for those that did their own estate plan, like through a website or solo, their family may find that these money saving measures were not legally enforceable, meaning, they had the effect of passing without an estate plan.
Every state has specific laws on estate planning, in addition to the federal laws that concern taxes. This is why it is so important for Geneva, Illinois, residents to call an attorney to help draft a legal and enforceable estate plan.