Why Thoughtful Estate Planning Is Crucial For Your Family

why thoughtful estate planning is crucial for your family

One of the biggest mistakes people make is believing that estate planning is for the rich or people with significant property or assets. Estate planning is crucial for your family because, while making plans for assets and properties is one facet of estate planning, you want to know that your wishes are respected, upheld, and carried out if the unexpected happens.

5 Reasons Families Benefit From Thoughtful Estate Planning

Here are five solid reasons estate planning is essential for any family.

Your children’s well-being depends on it

Who will your children go to live with if you are incapacitated or – worse – if you die? The answer to this question should be stated and legally recorded via your guardianship wishes. It doesn’t matter if the family has already agreed that your children will go to your parent(s), sister, brother-in-law and his family, etc. Verbal agreements and even written emails, texts, or letters do not necessarily hold up in court if your children’s guardianship is in question.

Any parent with children should implement an estate plan basic: establishing clear guardianship for your children if you cannot care for them. 

Without this critical piece of legal paperwork in place, you put your children at risk of being emotionally yanked into a family battle you never anticipated. And in some cases, they may even be separated from one another at the most traumatic time in their lives.

You may wind up on life support for months, years, or decades

Your advanced medical directive is another aspect of estate planning that has nothing to do with whether you are rich or not. Some of the complex and emotional decisions you’ll make when completing a legal, advanced medical directive include:

  • When you do want to be resuscitated.
  • Cases where you don’t want to be resuscitated.
  • Which types of life support (if any) do you want?
  • The maximum amount of time you want to be on life support.
  • Where do you want to die (in a hospital or at home on hospice)?
  • Who is authorized to make decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself (called your healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney)?
  • And more.

It’s not easy to think about these things. However, not stating your wishes puts your loved ones in a very precarious position. People who say they support your wishes now may do a 180-degree turn when their emotions get involved. Legal paperwork, a stated medical power of attorney, and the support of your estate planning attorney (if family disagreements ensue) are the only ways to ensure your wishes are carried out as stated in your legal documents.

Who will take care of things if you’re incapacitated?

Estate planning attorneys and “those who’ve been there” have always understood the value of making legally recognized plans in case you become incapacitated. However, the pandemic brought the importance of that to the attention of the general public. 

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, we discuss how to keep things moving forward in accordance with your wishes in the event you’re in a traumatic car accident, have a stroke/heart attack and are unconscious, or any other situation that renders you temporarily unable to make decisions (or take care of your children) on your own. 

Minimize tax obligations

Once you do have property, savings/investments, or other assets, your estate planning attorney can talk to you about different ways to structure your estate to minimize tax obligations when you die. If you only own one home, it’s still worth it to create a legal estate plan because we can put that home into a family trust, which means it passes more seamlessly to your heir or beneficiary – without them having to pay taxes or fees.

That’s just one example of how estate planning can begin to set you and your family up for more financial stability and success in the future.

Eliminate the risk Of family drama or strife With Thoughtful Estate Planning

It’s easy for some people to imagine the drama that would ensue if they didn’t have a solid will, trust, or estate plan in place. However, others good-heartedly believe that “their family isn’t like that.” As professional estate planning attorneys, we can tell you firsthand that any family has the potential to erupt when they’re in the midst of a tragedy. 

Having a family erupt in a war of emotions, battles of will, or well-intentioned “I heard them say they wanted X….not Y….” is a nightmare for everyone (again – especially if you have minor children or a partner who isn’t a spouse). It can mean a family divided by lawsuits or the end of certain relationships. A clean, inarguable estate plan is the only way to redirect everyone and remind them of your true intentions so your wishes are carried out accordingly.

NOTE: This is especially true if you are not married to a long-term partner or your wishes include heirs or beneficiaries who don’t fall within California’s straightforward intestate succession laws. If you don’t have a solid, legally-sound estate plan filed with an attorney, odds are your estate will go into probate, where everything is automatically distributed through your bloodline.

Protect Your Family & Start Making Crucial Estate Plans With Tseng Law Firm

The team at Tseng Law Firm understands that everyone is at different places in their estate planning journey, but taking the first step is crucial. We are happy to meet with you in a single consultation to begin thinking about what steps you should prioritize. Then, we’ll be here for you as your plans grow and change. 

Contact us to schedule a consultation. Once you start making these decisions and setting your family up for future success, you’ll understand the invaluable peace of mind an estate plan provides.