October is Estate Planning Month: So What?

October is also National Pizza Month, National Work and Family month and National Arts and Humanities Month. But October in not the only month during which we eat pizza, or enjoy the arts and our families. My point here is that if a “designated month” exists at all it is to call attention to the importance of certain things and events, but not to limit them to a single month.

Many people have the mistaken impression that by putting an estate plan in place it automatically hastens their death or illness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The very word “estate” conjures up visions of an imposing mansion with a sweeping circular driveway behind wrought iron gates, but your two bedroom split-level on a quarter acre lot is just as deserving of protection. And protecting your stuff is a good thing.

An estate plan is designed to accomplish several tasks:

  • Instruct your personal representative (executor) how to distribute your assets when you die;
  • Place your assets in trust in order to avoid the public, time-consuming and public probate process;
  • Appoint an attorney-in-fact/agent on how to handle your financial and health care decisions if you are incapacitated;
  • Authorize your health care providers to discuss your medical issues with a trusted family member or friend;
  • Designate a guardian of your minor children if you die;
  • Instruct your physician as to your wishes if you are terminally ill; and
  • Generally provide instructions on how you want your affairs to be handled if you can’t speak for yourself.

If your estate is not extensive or complicated, preparing an estate plan is relatively straightforward and doesn’t need to take a great deal of time or effort. If you have substantial assets and the need for complex tax planning, it is even more important to have a carefully thought-out estate plan in place. And of course, because life is not static, you should review your estate plan periodically with your estate planning team (attorney/CPA/financial advisor) to make sure that is complies with your current needs and accomplishes your goals under current tax law.

For a free consultation to get your estate plan underway, call Agins Law Firm, PLC/Sun Lakes Estate Planning Advisors at (480) 401-2660. And enjoy a slice of pizza and the arts with your family this month – or every month!