Estate Planning: When to Start

Many mistakenly believe that they do not need an estate plan. Some assume that they are too young, or that they do not have enough money. However, this could not be further from the truth. Anything can happen, for better or for worse. For this reason, the lawyers at Wiley Etter, LLC are here to assist in the preservation and proper allocation of your property in the present as well as in the future.

What is an Estate Plan?

An “estate plan” is a broad term that essentially entails the preparation of property/asset transfers in anticipation of the incapacitation or death of an individual. The most common device utilized in an estate plan includes a Last Will & Testament or Trust, which in its most basic form instructs an individual “Executor” or “Trustee” how to distribute property to which person once its owner passes on. There are also certain trusts that instruct how property should be allocated during the lifetime of the owner of that property. For instance, a father may create a trust fund for their child that is protected from creditors and will be used for a specific purpose such as a college education. Or, an elderly or disabled individual may place their home “in trust” to become eligible for Medicaid while preserving equity. The topic of trusts and the variety of purposes in which they serve will be the subject of another article.

Another common estate planning device would involve what is commonly known as a “Power of Attorney” which appoints someone to take care of an incapacitated individual’s financial affairs while they are unable to do so. Similarly, an “Advance Directives” allows someone to make medical decisions on behalf of someone not able to do so themselves.

It does not take long to realize that a plan for your financial and medical well-being can become quite complex. Nevertheless, there are tools available to ensure that you, your family and your property are taken care of. Whether it be a simple Will providing for a small family, or a complex asset protection and tax matter, Wiley Etter, LLC is available to help.

Why Everyone Needs a Plan

Assuming that you own too little or that you are too young is a common mistake that oftentimes leaves surviving loved ones confused, anxious and overwhelmed. Firstly, everyone owns something. Whether it be a savings account, 401(k), a pet dog, or a million-dollar piece of property, chances are you own something you care about. Secondly, anything can happen. What if you suddenly get sick, win money, have a kid, two kids, three kids? Without a plan, the state and/or judge will determine what happens to you, your property and potentially your family.

If you die without a will or trust, your state’s “intestacy” laws will determine where your property goes and a judge will decide who administers it. For most, this is less than ideal. There is also the concern of “guardianship” over any children that you may have. When there is no testamentary document specifying who you wish to care for your child, it could be left to the courts.

Without providing an exhaustive list of disaster scenarios, it should become apparent that a little time spent planning now can prevent a lot of hardship down the road. The point of this article is not to alarm you, but rather to inform you of how a simple meeting can alleviate stress now and later.

Contact Us Today!

We are licensed to provide estate planning services in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Our lawyers are available today to provide no nonsense advice custom made for each situation. Call us now! (203) 301-8722

Jerome L DiMenna, III, Esq.
Wiley Etter, LLC
August 24, 2018