Home > Education > Retirement & Estate Planning > Is Your Estate Plan in Order?
Middle-aged Caucasian couple staring at tablet or document

Is Your Estate Plan in Order?

Ensure your assets are distributed per your wishes.

One of the most important — and ignored — aspects of financial planning is estate planning. Yes, we all have an estate (our stuff), and yes, we will all reach the time when it will be distributed to others. Unfortunately, this very important aspect of planning is often left undone. When meeting with new clients, we often discover they have no estate plan or instructions in place for the disposition of their assets or guardianship for their minor children.

If you do not have a will, the state in which you live will provide one for you. They call this “dying intestate,” which means you give up the opportunity to distribute your assets as you want; instead, you’ve essentially hired the state to figure it out for you. State laws vary, but the message is the same: All your assets may not pass to your spouse and children.

If you have young children, who will raise them and manage your assets for their care, benefit, and welfare? Do you really want a stranger — a judge in probate court — to make those decisions?

Ironically, being unable to choose a guardian is the most common excuse parents of young children use for putting off writing a will. And wills aren’t enough. You also need a medical directive and a durable power of attorney. These documents apply if you become disabled and cannot make decisions on your own. After all, just because you’re in the hospital doesn’t mean your mortgage doesn’t have to be paid. Someone needs to pay your monthly bills — and the power of attorney lets a friend or family member do that for you.

If your condition is so severe that you can be kept alive only by artificial means, or if you need an operation but cannot make that decision because you are incapacitated, your medical directive allows another person of your choice to act on your behalf, honoring your preferences.

Without proper planning, your heirs will have to contend with probate court. And if you own real estate in several states, your heirs will have to deal with probate in each state. The process involves extensive time delays and legal fees, and, being a court action, it’s public — anyone can learn about your affairs. Fortunately, you can help avoid all this with a revocable living trust.

Talk with an estate attorney now.

This material was prepared for informational and/or educational purposes only. Neither Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C (also referred to as Edelman Financial Engines) nor its affiliates offer tax or legal advice. Be sure to consult with a qualified tax or legal professional regarding the best options for your particular circumstances.

Talk with a Financial Advisor

No Cost. No Obligation.

Single Step Form Articles

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden

By clicking submit you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Schedule Your Free, No Obligation Consultation

You May Also Like:

  • Holiday Themed Shopping Bag
    3 Tips to Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season
    Read More
  • Edelman Financial Engines Decorative Triangle Background
    Q&A: Can You Outperform a Diversified Portfolio?
    Read More
  • Article
    Are you prepared to care for your aging parents?
    Read More