2: What is a Good Estate Plan?

That depends entirely on your individual needs and desires.

Simply stated, a good estate plan is one that guarantees all your final wishes will be faithfully executed, providing you with peace of mind while providing your beneficiaries with the assets you wanted them to have.

Estate plans are not just for older people or for those with significant financial resources, they’re for anybody and everybody who cares about the continuation of their financial commitments even after they themselves are no longer around.

These commitments may include:

  • Securing the future financial welfare of your surviving spouse.
  • Providing for the support or special needs of your children or grandchildren, especially minors with costly illnesses or disabilities.
  • Providing or continuing support to your favorite non-profit organization.
  • Minimizing the legal wrangling that occurs when settling the assets of an estate. Hastening the distribution of funds can incur fewer expenses for the estate and get funds to the people and institutions who are counting on them.
  • Avoiding the need to sell off assets by providing in advance for necessary expenses that will occur.
  • Coordinating all your legal documents into one cohesive package, which includes those beneficiaries you wish to receive your insurance and retirement benefits.
  • Preparing flexible documents allowing for adjustments to account for frequent changes in tax laws and other legal issues, including those from the 2010 tax act.
  • Avoiding lawsuits, personal resentment, and general confusion by making your intentions clear to your survivors.
  • Preserving your privacy. Once the estate is opened the will becomes public, but a good estate plan can keep prying eyes from otherwise invading your family’s private business.
  • And speaking of family business, if you have one, a good estate plan must also provide for its survival and perpetuation.

Next: One Size Does Not Fit All