The folks at the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils have alerted me to the fact that this is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Ordinarily, I am a bit wary of these things but because I believe that good estate planning is essential for everyone, I am happy to remind people of the following facts.
1. Young people with small estates and no dependents need, at the very minimum, a health care directive (or durable power of attorney for health care as we call them in Tennessee) so that they have someone selected to handle health care decisions for them in the event of an emergency.
2. For families with minor children, wills are essential, to appoint a guardian and provide for the children in case something happens to both parents.
3. For anyone with an estate of any value, planning is essential to avoid probate where possible, to avoid state and federal estate taxes, and to have some control over where your property goes.
4. Protection of assets may also be important, especially in dealing with heirs who may have ‘issues” (ranging from bad marriages to financial mismanagement to drug or alcohol problems).
The more I get involved in this area, the more I see how simple planning can be so beneficial for people at all stages of life. I also know, from firsthand experience, how easy it is to put this stuff off and be in denial about the inevitable.
This stuff is essential. If you have any questions regarding these issues, feel free to contact me.