Most of us don't consider our own mortality on a daily basis. Many of us consider it so little that the majority of Americans don't have a will in place. In fact, a recent survey determined that 64% of Americans haven't taken the time to set up a will or estate plan in the event of their death.
But why is estate planning important? Especially for those who are young and healthy? As an attorney, you've likely seen many clients struggle after the death of a loved one who didn't leave a will.
To help encourage your clients to understand why estate planning is important, here are 7 reasons why they should turn to you to get things laid out legally
Why Is Estate Planning Important?
Estate planning is important because having one in place acts as protection for your client's beneficiaries. These beneficiaries might be minors, or adults (grown children or chosen friends or extended family members).
A nation-wide law is in place to appoint a guardian for minor children who are left in need due to the death of their parent or guardian. This appointed conservator will oversee all the finances of the minor until they reach adulthood.
By taking the time to set up an estate plan, you appoint the guardian of your client's choosing. In so doing, their family avoids potentially expensive legal issues and emotional drama in the process.
If the beneficiary will be an adult at the time of their inheritance, a will can be set up with certain stipulations. For example, if your client's adult child isn't the best at managing money, you can create an estate plan that grants an inheritance in either small payments or a sum that isn't accessible until they've reached a certain age.
As a Letter of Intent
An estate plan can act as a basic letter of intent, which is a document left to your client's beneficiaries to define what they want done with their assets. This plan might include their wishes for their own funeral or other special requests they want carried out after death.
Having this in place can help surviving family members as they decide what to do with property after your client has passed on. This will help prevent discord among family while offering an idea of your client's wishes after death.
In their letter of intent, you might encourage them to leave details on how they want their children to be raised in their absence or how a beloved pet should be cared for. Though there's no legality involved in enforcing some of these wishes, it will be helpful to the family left behind.
To Assign a Healthcare Power of Attorney
An estate plan can also determine a healthcare power of attorney. This means you can help designate a trusted family member or friend to make final decisions regarding your client's health should they become unable to do so.
Before they choose anyone to act as the healthcare power of attorney, help them consider who they can trust. Then encourage them to pick someone who would go forward with a course of action that they would choose for themselves if they were able.
To Reduce Estate Taxes
A lot of money can be lost to federal estate taxes or state inheritance taxes if a good estate plan hasn't been established. With your help as an experienced estate planning attorney, an estate plan can be put into place making many estate taxes avoidable.
Some of these solutions include ABC Trusts, revocable living trusts, and AB Trusts. Married couples and individuals have options to reduce their inheritance tax bills and estate-related taxes. Your clients will turn to you to help them find these loopholes.
Keep your Client's Assets Protected from Creditors
Why is estate planning important? It can act as an asset protection plan. This is very important in protecting your client and their beneficiaries from a potential lawsuit in the future.
Without an estate plan, your client's assets and property become vulnerable to creditors. Some creditors might seek to seize properties to pay off a debt. If a property is left to beneficiaries, those beneficiaries could end up losing it to creditors if an estate plan isn't set up as a protection.
To Help Your Clients Avoid a Financial Fiasco
With no plan in place, your client's family might fight over property and belongings after your passing. Expenses surrounding the maintenance of your assets can cause problems, or a business associate or friend might feel slighted.
In an estate plan, you and your client can work together to write up clear intentions. Your client can decide what will go to who, who will manage what, and what kind of donations they'll make, if any, to charitable foundations. Doing so will save your client's loved ones from the often costly process of probate court proceedings to have their estate divvied up.
To Aid With Philanthropic Goals
If your client's estate includes many assets worth a lot of money, they might have intentions to give to a charity after their passing. Your client might already know that they can name your children or loved ones as beneficiaries in their plan, but they might not be aware that they can also name a charity as a beneficiary. They can choose to either leave a certain percentage of their estate to a charity of their choice or set up an ongoing payment where donations will be sent for years to come.
Make it Easy With Estate Planning Software
When your client asks you, "Why is estate planning important", you can refer to these reasons why they shouldn't delay. Once your client understands the importance of having an estate plan in place, it's up to you to get the job done right.
Make your estate planning process easier and more efficient with our estate planning software. Designed with the help of estate planning attorneys who understand the needs of clients and fellow attorneys, this software can help you streamline the process of establishing a will.
Learn more about our software and how it can help you by visiting our website. Find out about pricing and contact us with any questions. We're here to help.