October 4, 2023
Estate Planning Awareness Month
October is Estate Planning Awareness Month, which serves as an important reminder for all of us to take time to review our estate plans or create one if we haven’t already. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy or elderly – it’s important for everyone to have a plan in place to protect your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes in the event of incapacity or death.
Having an up-to-date estate plan can save your loved ones significant time, money, and stress in the future. There are three key legal documents that everyone should have:
- Will – This lets you determine who inherits your assets and allows you to name a guardian for minor children. For families with young children, this guardianship provision is extremely important.
- Durable Power of Attorney – In the event that you become incapacitated, this document will allow someone of your choosing to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf.
- Healthcare Proxies – This document outlines your preferences for healthcare treatment in various situations and allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
In addition to the basics, there may be other estate planning strategies to consider based on your specific situation, such as setting up trusts, making gifts, or transferring property. For example, trusts can help minimize estate taxes, avoid probate, or set aside assets for special purposes. Proper titling of assets, beneficiary designations, and joint ownership provisions are also important components of an estate plan.
We recommend that our clients review their estate plans regularly and update them as needed when life circumstances change. Events like marriages, divorces, births, deaths, retirement, or moving to another state are all good reasons to review and potentially modify your existing documents. Keeping beneficiary designations up-to-date is particularly important.
The estate planning process can seem daunting, which is why many people put it off. But having a thoughtful plan in place is one of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones. Reach out to a Rockbridge advisor if you have questions about starting or reviewing your current estate plan.