It is all too common for individuals to delay the planning of their estate until later in life. A 2016 study by RBC Wealth Management and Scorpio Partnership revealed that only 26% of individuals surveyed had a complete estate planning strategy. One of the most common reasons individuals defer putting off an estate plan is because they do not want to ponder their own illness or death. However, researchers have also discovered that another common reason individuals put off the estate planning process is because they are not sure what they will want to have happen at a distant time in the future. This leads to individuals to stall and undertake their estate planning process later in life.
But is it wise to push off decisions until you have a clearer picture of how you would like your assets distributed? The answer is often no. A fact that is frequently overlooked is that an individual can periodically update their estate plan if you want to change something. Creating an estate plan and updating it as events change is actually the recommended procedure for planning the distribution of your estate. An example of this would be an individual who decides to give a substantial amount of money to their children when they reach the age of 21. However, as they age, the individual realizes that receiving an inheritance at 21 may place significant burden on their child at that young of an age. Instead, years later, they can modify it to distribute the inheritance once the child reaches the age of 30. Having a plan in place and later amending it if necessary assures an individual that their loved ones are taken care of in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Along with planning early and updating as life goes on, another important aspect to estate planning is to alert your heirs of your plan. Although it may be uncomfortable discussing details with family, the gritty details are important in helping an heir prepare for an inheritance. Without proper discussion, the transfer of property can be complicated later. For instance, if a business owner chooses to leave his business to his son without discussing it with him, he could be unaware that the son does not want to engage in the business. Instead, after discussion, the owner can choose to sell the property before he retires, and pass the assets from the sale to the son.
Additionally, probating a will can take quite a bit of time and cost. It is possible that a will can take years to probate, therefore having heirs that understand their inheritance can be crucial. Without an open discussion, wrongful assumptions may be made by your heirs that would complicate this already lengthy process. Individuals who have inherited wealth themselves are most likely to begin planning early and have open discussions because they were frustrated by how the process went for them. Research shows that the earlier in life the conversation with family starts over your estate, the smoother the transfer of wealth will be.
At Tully Law, PC, we understand that estate and elder planning can be both emotional and overwhelming. Our attorneys are available to advise you on complex estate planning and elder law issues so as to minimize the possibility of any problems. We will take the time to review your goals and circumstances and do our best to ensure that your assets are protected and your wishes will be carried out as per your estate plan. For more information regarding our services or to schedule a consultation, call (631) 424-2800.