5th Sep 2013

Steven Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, once said that “death is the single best invention.”  When he said those words, Jobs was already facing his own mortality while battling cancer.  Hence, he felt he had to act with more urgency since time wasn’t on his side.

For many, death may not be the “best invention.” However, the thought of death has spawned many practical legal and financial mechanisms known as “estate planning.”  People in estate planning assist clients in planning their finances and assets in anticipation of death as well as mental and physical incapacity. 

Unfortunately many people do not yet see the reality of death. Those in the prime of their life cannot contemplate being gone from this world in the wink of an eye. Others also believe that estate planning is not for them. It is for the movers and shakers or people who are wallowing in money. Many don’t treat estate planning as a priority item, but people should give estate panning its due attention. Anyone who is 18 and above and with assets in the form of savings and some belongings should be thinking about estate planning. 
Let’s put it this way:  Estate planning is like battling for the big “C,” referring to control.  Having an estate plan means being able to control how your assets will be distributed – even when you are no longer around. On the other hand, if you do not have an estate plan, the state government will be the one to control how your assets will be distributed.  So, it’s really a question of who do you want to be in control of your assets when you pass away or are incapacitated? Wouldn’t you rather be in control verses letting the government take charge?            
Estate planning can easily be compared to a game of American Football.  With an estate plan in the form of documents such as a Will or Living Trust, you control the distribution of your assets.  Otherwise, the government will be quarterbacking the distribution of your estate.  
Let us take the case of dying without a Will or Living Trust.  When that happens, people will still inherit your estate. However, the question is:  Will it be the people you want to inherit your estate or will it be others? The state government will determine the line of inheritance in a process called intestacy. Lets say you want Joe Smith to inherit your thriving beer brewery business. Well, if Joe Smith is not in the line of intestacy, he  won’t get anything.    

If you do not have a medical durable power of attorney, you will not have control of what to do in case you fall into a coma. The state government will be the one to decide on that.  If you do not have an estate plan, your heirs may have to liquidate your assets just so they can pay the estate taxes.  Again, it’s because you do not have control. 

Take control of how your estate will be distributed when you have departed.  Let your estate plan — and not the state government quarterback distribute your assets.  Talk to your estate planning attorney today.

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