What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is an opportunity to enhance peace of mind while creating structure, stability and continuity for the future. Estate Planning enables individuals and families to accomplish these goals by addressing in advance some of life’s most difficult eventualities and inevitabilities. Both you and your loved ones may avoid enormous stress and uncertainty by thoroughly and honestly assessing the circumstances of your estate–including all assets and debts—and making decisions about how and by whom your estate should be managed, well in advance of eminent need.
What is your Estate?
Your estate is comprised of all the property, assets and debts you personally own and may include partial assets you hold jointly through marriage or business. In fact, your estate may be as small as the clothes on your back or a vast and diversified personal empire.
Who needs Estate Planning?
The short answer to this question is almost every adult. Estate Planning becomes more critical for those with substantial assets (even if it is just cash or savings), anyone who owns a business, everyone who has a minor child, those with an heir who receives essential government benefits, and anyone with assets of any type who desire to choose how those assets are disposed of at the end of their life. Estate Planning is also important for those who need to designate Powers of Attorney to another person prior to high-risk medical procedures; those at risk of becoming incapacitated long-term; anyone traveling extensively, especially abroad; and other reasons. People who desire to communicate specific requests for medical care, palliative treatment, end-of-life care or funerary wishes are also strongly encouraged to utilize Estate Planning to ensure their specific wishes are known and adhered to.
Why is Estate Planning important?
This question usually comes out something like “Why should I bother with a Will or Estate Planning when I am going to be dead and won’t care anyway.” The question arises from many points but primarily from the misconception that Estate Planning is all about death. End of life concerns are certainly a central reason for estate planning, but at its core the estate planning process is about life, not death. It is about helping yourself and helping your loved ones to experience the peace of mind that comes with having a plan to deal with whatever circumstances might arise while you are alive as well as at the end of life, yours or theirs.
Many of the principles of Estate Planning have nothing to do with death at all. As we go through life’s many adventures, estate planning provides a forum for transparency and honesty in developing relationships, acquiring property, and building the legacies we will leave behind for future generations.
Do I need an Estate Planning Attorney?
An Estate Planning Attorney will play a significant role in helping many people to create a legally solid Estate Plan. There are many times in life that the Do It Yourself movement is a great choice. When children, significant assets, delicate family or medical circumstances are to be addressed, it is very much suggested that you seek legal advice from an Estate Planning Attorney. Your Estate Planning Attorney will have an experienced knowledge of the precise legal statutes and complex language involved in properly creating estate planning documents. Document templates found online may not follow Washington State Law or may be outdated. Errors in these documents can create significant problems and even invalidate the documents altogether. To ensure that your Estate Plan is solid, consult with an Estate Planning Attorney and be certain that documents are properly notarized.