04/01/2011

Estate Planning - What Are You Waiting For?

What, you mean you don’t have an estate plan?

Do any of these comments sound familiar?

• I’m married; my spouse and kids will take care of everything...

• I’m busy running my business in this economy...

• I don’t have time right now...

• I don’t know what I want to do with my stuff...

• I’m in good health...

• I’m years from retirement...

• I don’t have anything that anyone would want...

• Yuck, that’s morbid, and I don’t even want to think about it...

Estate planning is not one of those processes that everyone jumps right into, gets started and finished, and moves on. It raises the specter of one’s own mortality and the fears of incapacity, medical catastrophe or terminal illness.

At the same time, estate planning is much more than end-of-life planning, more than deciding who should inherit your worldly goods and what sort of medical treatment you want and refuse in your final days.

Major life changes such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or death of a spouse are triggers for those without an estate plan. They should prompt you to think through your preferences on managing your financial and medical needs if you are not able to handle them yourself, and then put those preferences into a document so that your desires are legally enforceable. You need to plan to be able to provide for your loved ones if you are unable to, because of disability, incapacity or death.

Less obvious are people in the following situations who have specific issues that must be addressed to ensure that they properly take care of their loved ones:

• Single or married parents of minor children, especially those who have named the children as beneficiaries of retirement plans;

• Single parents who have named their children as beneficiaries to life insurance policies, and who are being assigned overseas in hazardous locations;

• Married individuals, one of whom has children from a prior marriage, and no children from the current marriage;

• Children over the age of 18 whether or not they are living at home, as parents may not be allowed to make important decisions for them;

• Elderly parents being cared for by adult children;

• Someone caring for a medically or psychologically disabled person who qualifies or may qualify for government benefits;

• Same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships;

• Small business owners who do not have a written succession plan or buy-sell agreement.

If any of these situations describes your situation, fill out the Estate Planning Questionnaire, and call for an appointment with an estate planning attorney.

 

 

Law Office of Eileen Guerin Swicker

20 W. Market St. Suite E, Leesburg, Va 20176 Tel: 571-918-0616  Fax: 703-459-9620