Estate Planning: Who Needs It and Why

On: January 17, 2017

By Diane Kauffman, Marketing and Sales Manager

By the time my husband and I were in our mid-twenties, we had saved enough money toward a down-payment on our first home and became property owners. As a new homeowner, I wanted to be prepared for the future. And so, we contacted an attorney and had our first Wills prepared. Believe me – if something had happened to us – no one would have received any inheritance, except for the honor of selling our house and paying off our bills.

As we hit 30 and with a new baby in the house, it became even more important to have a Will. Without a named Guardian, we would have had no choice in who raised our daughter if something happened to us. Without an Executor, who would have had oversight over the money we had managed to save? Who would have made sure that our funds – however, meager – were being used and invested in her best interest?

Over the years, we continued to update our Wills so that they were in keeping with our interests at the time. When my husband passed away a couple of years ago, because we were prepared, paper work was at a minimum. His assets transferred over easily so that I had the money I needed to keep things going. At this point, our daughter does not need a guardian and is now the executor of my will.  Everything she needs to know is in my Will. This will make things easier for her when I pass away.

Some may wonder if all this was really needed? After all, I am firmly a part of the middle class. I will work to my full retirement age or longer. Like many people, I cross my fingers that I’ve saved enough for a comfortable retirement. I don’t own a lot of property, high-priced jewelry or antiques.

Of course, it was – and is – needed. By having a plan for my estate, I am protecting my daughter and my assets. I am avoiding probate. Not unimportantly, I am helping minimize questions and conflict that might come up in my family. No one will need to guess what I wanted! And though this is not my particular situation, estate planning can protect your vulnerable relatives, whether parents or siblings.

Wills are only a small part of an Estate Plan. Trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, and beneficiary designations are just a few of the additional documents that you can use to protect you and your loved ones.

To plan your estate, talk to an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. Check out the membership of the Chester County Estate Planning Council at www.chescoepc.org. Another option is to attend an upcoming presentation by Nancy Pine, Esq., being held at The Hickman on Wednesday, January 25 at 5:00 p.m.  For additional information about this event please visit www.thehickman.org