What is Estate Planning?
Everyone needs a good Estate Plan because everyone has something they care
about and people they don't want to inconvenience. You may think
you don't have a lot, but it doesn’t matter how much you have.
If you lock your doors when you go out, it means you have “stuff” that
you care about. If you fail to plan for getting this “stuff” somewhere
else, then the people who come after you will have to go to a lot of trouble
and expense to figure it out for you.
Good Estate Planning means creating a way to give what you want, to whom
you want, when you want, the way you want, while minimizing the taxes and
attorney's fees you and your loved ones need to pay now, and after you are
A good Estate Plan includes a way of transferring title to the things you
own now, to someone else after you have passed away. If you don’t
create a way to do this, only the Probate Court will have the power to
make the transfer. In general, the documents that can get this done, are
a will or a trust. Your Estate Plan should include a will or a trust. But
that’s not all.
Estate Planning also means planning for incapacity. In other words, what
if you get sick and can’t handle your own affairs? Who will have
the legal authority to take care of you? Good Estate Planning means thinking
and planning for this unhappy, but not so unlikely event, as well. To do
this, everyone needs a durable financial power of attorney, a durable power
of attorney for health care, and a living will.
Often overlooked by those who assume estate planning is for the elderly, is the fact that couples with children under 18 need a good estate plan. If something happens, what would happen to the kids? Many people procrastinate on choosing a proposed guardian for the children because they simply can't decide or can't agree. But if they are having trouble, how much more trouble will a court have when the time comes? Parents who care about the welfare of their children, must put documents together that reflect their best choice for the care of their children if something happens to them. And for single people, these papers are essential since, without a spouse, there is no one who has legal authority to handle health care and financial decisions in case of trouble. Lastly, of course members of the LGBT community must have papers. Since the state of Missouri does not recognize their relationships legally, the only way for them to confer legal rights on those most important to them is by creating legal documents to do so.
For more information on Estate Planning, see Mr. Rubin’s
detailed advice on Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills,
under “Areas of Practice”, on the left. You may also want to
review the information available at the The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).