You know where you are. You assessed your current situation. You know the people you care about, what you own and the approximate value, your income and your health. You also took the time to define what you want your future to look like for the good and bad days. The bad days cover the times you may be unable to care for yourself and when you die.
What plan will best help you accomplish your goals? There are lots of planning choices from doing nothing, to micro-managing other people’s lives from the grave.
This article will cover the most common plan; do nothing. There are many reasons why people don’t do any estate planning. Some think they’re too busy. Or they don’t own enough. Or they’re not old enough.
Many people are confused—and rightly so—by incorrect and misleading information from professionals who are influenced by the products or services they sell. As a result, many consumers don’t know what to do or whom to trust—so they do nothing,
Some think the only reason to do estate planning is to write down “who gets what” after they die, and they think their families will be able to decide that among themselves.
Of course, no one likes to think about his or her own mortality. As a result, many families are caught off guard and unprepared when incapacity or death strikes.
So, what happens if you do nothing?
- If you become mentally or physically unable to care for yourself and you own assets in your own name, a Court will take control. It will be necessary to have someone petition the Court and ask to be appointed to help manage your finances and decisions related to your medical care and housing options.
- If you die as a resident of the State of Idaho, and you own a home or other real property, or you own accounts and other assets with a total value in excess of $100,000, then your estate will need to be probated. What does that mean? Someone will need to ask a Court to be appointed to handle the deceased person’s affairs, see that the bills are paid and the assets ultimately distributed to the right people according to the laws of Idaho.
- If you have minor children, the Court will control their inheritances and appoint a guardian to raise them—without knowing your choice.
- In the years 2011 and beyond, if your estate is valued at more than one million dollars ($1,000,000), a large portion of your assets will go to Uncle Sam.
So even if you do nothing, you have a plan in place, but the plan was created by the Idaho State Legislature, not you. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. All you have to do to keep control of your assets, avoid probate, and save taxes is to plan now.
Estate planning is not just for the old or for the wealthy. It’s something everyone needs to do, regardless of age, the size of the estate, or whether they are married or single. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You just need accurate, objective information—the kind you are reading right now—so you can decide what is best for you and your family.
Doing nothing is a poor choice. Future blogs will highlight better options to help you accomplish your vision of the future you want for yourself and your family.
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At The Graham Law Office, we help retired people create security in their lives by protecting their assets and independence from excess taxes, health tragedies and the interferences of strangers, even if they are embarrassed to admit their retirement fears. Call for a FREE appointment with attorney, Susan Graham, to help create your security.Call before May 28, 2010 and we will send you a FREE report entitled “16 OF THE MOST COMMON AND COSTLY ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES, AND HOW TO AVOID THEM.”