Estate Planning – Ensuring Your Family’s Financial Security

Estate Planning and Will

It’s tempting to keep putting off estate planning for “some other time.” You tell yourself you’re just too busy right now, or that money is too tight for the lawyer’s fees. Maybe you even shrug it off; after all, who cares what happens to your stuff if you’re already gone…

But estate planning is not something to be ignored.

In Fact, It’s An Act of Love.

This isn’t just about dealing with assets and financial sheets. Your estate can quickly become a headache for your family if you don’t plan ahead, and it’s a headache that will plague them when they’re suffering from the pain of your loss. Nobody needs that when grieving.

Failure to plan can also eat into or delay any inheritance you leave behind. In some cases, all the confusion and stress can lead to bickering amongst the family.

By taking some simple steps, you can save them from all that trouble.

Some Things to Know About Estate Planning

Here are some things you should keep in mind.

  • What is Probate? – It might seem complicated, but it’s nothing more than a court process, a set of rules that determine who has the title to your estate after you pass away. Unfortunately, the probate courts are extremely inefficient and cause a great deal of pain for grieving family members.
  • Avoid Probate at All Costs – Every person’s estate goes through probate upon their death if they don’t plan ahead. It’s an archaic system, the attorney and filing fees are expensive – sometimes equaling up to 6% of the estate –  and it can take half a year for the process to finish.
  • Understanding Wills – A will is your tool for making probate easy. It’s essentially a direct communication from you to the judge, letting them know what you want to happen with the stuff you own. They then appoint the executor to execute the will, giving them the power to access your bank account, transfer deeds in your name, or do whatever else needs to be done.
  • Ownership is Everything – Simply building a trust is not enough, for instance. Many people never get around to transferring ownership of assets like houses and business assets, to the trust, so when they’re gone it must go through probate. To gain the benefits of a trust, you must transfer all titles to the trust. Then whoever holds the deed retains control.
  • Speak With an Attorney – It doesn’t cost anything to have a conversation with a lawyer, and you can often do it with a phone call. Give them your details and find out what kind of hassle your family would go through if you were to die today, given the current state of your financial affairs. They can then give you some advice and an estimate on providing some protection.

The Only Way to Protect Your Family

The world we live in is complicated. As if death weren’t painful enough, we twist ourselves up in all sorts of financial ties and legal issues that complicate life for our families – all to satisfy laws written on paper. It’s bewildering to think about sometimes.

But there are also plenty of laws and processes in place to protect them if you simply take the time to plan. It’s the only way to be sure they can grieve unencumbered by the unnecessary baggage if you die. And that brings you peace of mind.

Freelance writer Rick Mercado spends his free time daydreaming about flying helicopters. He is a weekend warrior who loves Canadian history, buttered prawns, and his darling wife – though not necessarily in that order. Mercado refers friends who want to know more about estate planning and other related issues to