Why do Estate Planning?

Why do you need Estate Planning?

First, it’s important to understand what the term “estate planning” actually means. Today, we use the word “estate” differently than what was originally intended. In today’s society the word “estate” is used as a synonym for “wealth.” So the reference to an “estate home” conjures the impression of a mansion. A reference to the “estates division” of a bank seems like it would be the banking services for rich people. But the actual meaning of the word “estate” in this context is simply whatever a person owns at the time of his or her death.

There are a lot of people who think they don’t need to do “estate planning” because they are not “rich.” That’s unfortunate because the fact is, whether a person has a large estate or a modest one, they still want their estate to go to the people they choose. It would probably be better if “estate planning” was actually called “inheritance planning” so there would be no confusion. Unfortunately, it’s not called “inheritance planning” it’s still called “estate planning.”

So the question comes back to… why do you need estate planning? There are many answers to that question, but almost all of them fall into one of three main categories:

Controlling what happens to your property

  • Retaining absolute control of your property throughout your lifetime
  • Apportioning shares and making gifts to loved ones as you see fit
  • Keeping your personal and financial information private
  • Versatility of being able to make changes in your estate plans at any time

Saving money & preserving your estate

  • Avoiding probate and attorneys’ fees
  • Taking advantage of significant tax strategies and advantages
  • Avoiding a “fire sale” of assets
  • Providing for grandchildren and saving money

Convenience for your family/heirs

  • Leave clear, written instructions of your wishes
  • Avoiding probate inconveniences
  • Providing privacy for your family/heirs
  • Providing timely access to estate resources for your family/heirs

The California Bar Association produced a publication on estate planning that further explains why you may need estate planning.
Click here to view excerpts from that publication.