National Estate Planning Awareness Week is celebrated each year during the third week of October. This holiday was created by Congress in 2008, based on an estimate that over 120 million Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves and their families in the event of illness, injury, or untimely death.
Nobody likes to think about what will happen after their death, but having a properly prepared estate plan is the best way to make sure your loved ones are protected no matter what the future holds. At a bare minimum, you should have a will or trust, beneficiary designations for your 401(k) plan and other assets not covered in the will, and power of attorney designations that give a trusted friend or family member the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. If you are the parent, you should also make guardianship designations for your children to ensure that someone who shares your parenting views will be able to care for your children after your death.
It's a common misconception that only the wealthy need an estate plan. However, if you were to pass away without any estate plan in place, the court would be left to distribute any assets you have and to select a guardian for your children. With an estate plan, you can make your wishes known and minimize estate taxes to ensure a more generous inheritance for your heirs. If desired, you can even use your estate plan to continue supporting a favorite charitable or non-profit organization.
If you already have an estate plan, please keep in mind that these documents need to be periodically reevaluated. There are many circumstances that can alter your estate plan, including marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child or grandchild, or changes in state laws regarding inherited assets. You would also need to update your estate plan if one of your heirs has become a person with special needs, as leaving an inheritance directly can disqualify an heir from Medicaid and other important government benefits.
How Can We Help?
Please call the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com to speak to one of our experienced Pasadena estate planning attorneys. We are happy to guide you through the process of creating an estate plan that best fits your needs.