Yes, you still need an estate plan
As a result of massive changes in tax laws in 2018, 99.9 percent of Americans don’t need to worry about estate taxes. Since most states have done away with inheritance taxes, the tax-efficient distribution of assets to heirs isn’t a focal point for financial planning. However, this doesn’t mean estate planning can go by the wayside; having an estate plan is key for a smooth transition of your estate.
Notably, a 2017 survey from AARP revealed that 60 percent of Americans don’t have an estate plan. This year’s tax reform makes it an opportune time to draw documents up (or review plans) to make sure you’re maximizing wishes. Because you don’t have to worry about tax issues, you can create a well-structured plan with the disposition of assets to heirs with minimal emotional wear and tear. Clearly identifying which assets are passed to whom can prevent unnecessary disputes.
Plan for your family
For new parents, it’s particularly important to have an estate plan and updated Will. Who will take care of your children should you no longer be there? If this isn’t clearly defined, it will be processed intestate, which is the worst possible outcome for children, as well as for assets. Sure, it’s not something that parents want to think about, but it’s critical to have a plan in place so that children can be properly taken care of. And if there’s no listing of assets, it’s an arduous process to decipher the different types of accounts that might exist — from cash to life insurance to investments.
Plan for you
A final element to your estate plan, no matter how young or old you are, is to have a durable Power of Attorney and living Will — if you become incapacitated for any reason, you don’t want to place the burden on family members to make decisions for you without knowing your wishes. If clearly outlined what kind of care should be given, you won’t have to unfairly leave the family to decide.
Having an estate plan isn’t just about who gets what family heirlooms or an inheritance, it’s about making sure your affairs are taken care of when you’re gone. Take the time this year to get your estate in order to ease the process for the future.