The short answer: Yes. Nearly everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of income level or family structure. Even for young people without substantial assets or children, medical and financial powers of attorney, among other estate planning tools, can help protect your wishes in the event of incapacitation or emergency. For the long answer, see below for five reasons you should have an estate plan.
Everything Might Not Go Directly to Your Spouse (or It Might)
You may assume that everything may go to your spouse in the absence of a will. Intestate succession laws vary by state and may not be consistent. And you may have assets that have been joint titled to someone other than your spouse, leaving that asset’s disposal up to the surviving owner. You may have also named beneficiaries to accounts and forgotten to update them. Naming beneficiaries can clear up confusion, but an attorney can help review all of your accounts and make sure they are consistent with a clearly detailed estate plan.
Have a Plan in Place in Case of an Emergency
In addition to deciding where you want to leave your assets, an estate plan can also help you in the event you become incapacitated or unable to make financial or medical decisions. An estate planning attorney can help you craft powers of attorney, which authorize a person you choose to act on your behalf. There are several types of powers of attorney, including financial and medical. And you can draft medical directives that dictate the types of medical treatment you would like to receive if you cannot make decisions while ill.
Plan for Guardianship of Your Children
If you have young children, a will is needed to name guardians for those children. In the absence of a will the state will decide, and that decision may not be in accordance with your wishes. You can also plan to set aside funds for your children’s education and care.
A skilled estate planning attorney can help you use trusts to manage your assets or assets for a minor child, reduce estate taxes, and distribute assets without putting those assets—and your family—through a stressful probate process. There are many different types of trusts for a wide range of circumstances. A revocable living trust, for example, allows you to transfer ownership of assets while naming yourself as the trustee, which lets you control your assets during your life but preserves your wishes in how the asset will pass and be administered after your passing.
Preserve Your Assets for Your Heirs and Beneficiaries.
An estate planning attorney will also be knowledgeable about the ever-changing status of estate taxes and other taxes that could diminish the value of your estate. Trusts and gifting can help preserve the value of your assets for your family when guided by an experienced attorney.
Speak with a Houston Estate Planning Attorney Today
Everyone, regardless of income or family structure, should have an estate plan. Call the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch Miller, PLLC to discuss a plan that’s right for your specific circumstances. Contact our office at 713-936-9073 to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney on our team.