Some folks want to avoid estate planning because they associate it with death. However, estate planning is NOT just about death. In fact, good estate planning is focused on life, including retirement planning, college planning, gifting programs, charitable planning, asset ownership, asset protection, disability protection, and tax strategies.
An experienced and qualified estate planning attorney can design a comprehensive estate plan that protects you and your family, while you’re alive (and after your death.) Disability protection would be a good example of why an estate plan is important during your lifetime.
Becca had just gotten married to Mark. They bought a house and combined bank accounts. Because they were young and didn’t have children yet, they thought they didn’t need an estate plan.
Becca was injured in a car accident; it was serious and Becca was placed in a nursing home. Mark was overwhelmed and wanted to sell their house, but he needed Becca’s signature to do so.
Mark petitioned the court to be named as conservator for Becca so he could sell the house and manage her finances. He had to hire an attorney for Becca and an attorney for himself. He had to pay medical witnesses to prove she was disabled. Becca’s sister contested Mark being named as conservator.
The court froze all of the assets and named a professional fiduciary to serve as the conservator. Mark had to get permission from the court before taking any financial action with his own money and house. The conservator had to be paid and would continue to be paid until Becca either died or regained capacity.
Mark was totally stressed out, broke, and subject to the control of the conservator and the court.
If Becca had done proper estate planning, she would have had a financial power of attorney, and advance health care directive and, likely, a revocable living trust in place. The conservatorship and its related stress, fees, and time consumption would have been avoided.
Consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney to best ensure that you and your family are protected during your life (and after your death.)