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Why You Should Consider Making an Estate Plan

By Arleen Richards
Epoch Times Contributor
Created: January 17, 2013 Last Updated: January 17, 2013
Related articles: Life » Slice of Life
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A pedestrian walks by the Northern Trust banking company's headquarters February 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A pedestrian walks by the Northern Trust banking company's headquarters February 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As an attorney I am in the business of offering a service as opposed to a tangible product. Nonetheless, I still have the responsibility of marketing my business in order to attract clients who believe they can benefit from my service, which is to help you plan how you want your estate to be transferred after you die.

Generally speaking, the last thing most people want to think about is that they are some day going to die. But, like it or not, or believe it or not, we are all going to die some day.

Rather than looking at estate planning as a way to deal with your own mortality, think of it as providing protection for your family. During life, we make plans for education, jobs, housing, healthcare, children, etc., which is the same planning you do for your estate.

An estate plan protects your family and loved ones after you can no longer do it, because they will continue to live on after you are gone. If you have cared for your family throughout your life, chances are you want them to sustain the lifestyle they have been accustomed to.

To simplify your approach to estate planning, consider four key areas of planning: 1. protecting your spouse; 2. protecting nonspouse beneficiaries; 3. preserving your business for the next generation; and 4. leaving a legacy.

For many individuals, the spouse is the primary concern so it is common for these individuals to leave all of the assets to the spouse, with the children or other loved ones being secondary beneficiaries.

If you are the surviving spouse, the estate plan may need to be modified in order to distribute fairly to the children. The surviving spouse could also carefully plan to ensure that assets are available on a long-term basis for the beneficiary and protect them from being accessed by others, like creditors or a child’s estranged spouse.

A family business owner has several options to consider for exiting the business including whether or not to transfer it to family members or sell it to an interested buyer. Other considerations involve the profitability of the business and the ability of other family members to successfully run the business. It could be that after a careful evaluation, the family would be best protected if you sold the business and invested the proceeds.

In these modern times, it is not uncommon for someone to die without any descendants, but this does not preclude anyone from leaving a legacy. During life, many individuals may get involved in volunteer work, which can lead to donating property or money. You can also make these charitable contributions in your will or in a trust, which plans for the future care and support of a beloved organization. Unlike a transfer to family members, which will occur whether you have a will or not, a charitable gift can only be transferred through a testamentary document.

So, when pondering whether or not to plan your estate, remember all the planning you have done throughout life like buying health insurance, securing a loan, opening a bank account, making investments, etc., and consider how best to ensure that all of this life planning continues to protect your loved ones after you are gone.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at arleenrichards-law.info.

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