The Shape of Tax to Come

A Tax & Estate Planning blog for 21st-century Texans

Drop in Estate Planning Indicates Wrong Planning Focus

In a startling display of lack of foresight on the part of the American public, a recent survey from Lawyers.com shows that only 51% of the public has estate planning documents. Part of the reason cited for the drop is that the economic downturn has made planning more difficult. While the economic downturn is a reason, this is not a satisfactory one.

True, not knowing what the value of your assets will be over the course of the coming years will make planning more difficult. However, financial management of assets such as this is not the only reason to plan your estate. In many cases, the financial aspects of the estate plan are not the primary reason for planning. Taking care of your loved ones and ensuring that you don’t leave a legacy of conflict will be much more important than any pecuniary amount left behind.

By taking the time to carefully plan out your estate, you will have a plan in place when something happens to you. Many of the choices made will not be impacted by the financial markets. If you are incapacitated, there is no direct answer to the question “who is in charge here?” By taking the time to determine who your guardians are, you can save your family the time and expense, both monetary and emotional, of arguing over control of you. Having the living will or advance directive in place will ease tensions regarding medical treatment. And both you and your family will be able to rest easy knowing that the decisions made were made in line with your wishes.

And what estate plan would be complete without providing for the care and upbringing of your children? Knowing the persons to whom you want to entrust the care of your children in the case of your death is possibly one of the most important decisions that parents can make in planning for their estate. It is certainly the decision that takes up most parents’ time. Would you rather your family spend time in court arguing over custody of the children? Is no plan really the best plan?

The bottom line is that planning your estate has more to do with items that are unrelated to the state of the markets. It is far better to have a plan that takes care of the things that truly matter, you and your family, than the items that are affected by market shifts.

Decline in Estate Planning

Read the full article here.

March 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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