Estate Planning: What Is It & Do I Need It?

RAK Law Firm Team

Hello! My name is Andrea D. Ortiz and I am your go-to Estate Planning Attorney at RAK Law. As an Estate Planning Attorney, I am asked two key questions all the time.

What Is Estate Planning?

It is important to realize, Estate Planning is much more than a set of legal documents. Estate Planning centers on taking time to make decisions for you and your family, while you still can. While most people understand that Estate Planning is important, it often takes a backseat to life’s everyday demands. There are countless causes for this delay, but, in my experience, the primary reason why most people neglect their Estate Planning needs is because NOBODY likes to think about their days being numbered. Believe me, this hesitation is completely understandable. However, addressing (while you’re still alive) what you want to happen to your property and assets* in case of death or incapacity protects your legacy and makes your wishes clear to your family and, if necessary, the courts. Incidentally, when these wishes are addressed and communicated properly, surviving family members have a better chance of moving forward together during their time of grief.

Do I Need Estate Planning?

The short answer is YES! Many people mistakenly believe that Estate Planning is only for the wealthy. The truth is proper Estate Planning benefits everybody. If you have a bank account, a credit card, a car, a house, a retirement plan, a family, or even a pet parrot that will outlive you, then YOU need Estate Planning. In addition to what happens when you die, Estate Planning also encompasses documents like a Living Will, a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, and a Durable Power of Attorney. These documents determine what happens if you suffer an accident or illness that leaves you incapacitated.

The importance of Estate Planning also pops up in some unexpected ways. For instance, families with college-bound children (18+ years old) are often unaware that, without Estate Planning, these young adults are left vulnerable in the event of an accident or illness. Proper Estate Planning allows parents, or any other designated person, to take charge if their child becomes incapacitated, without having to go to court. Another commonly overlooked aspect of Estate Planning concerns spouses designating each other as the decision-maker in the case of incapacity. While these designations are certainly a good start, what happens if both spouses are incapacitated in a car accident? If these individuals failed to identify an alternate designee in their Estate Planning documents, medical decisions and end-of-life care will be thrown into limbo, likely causing confusion, delay, and legal complications. There are SO MANY reasons to get your Estate Planning in order, but they all boil down to making your wishes clear to your family and the courts and establishing a plan in case you become incapacitated. I know that thinking about Estate Planning can be uncomfortable, but I promise that the Estate Planning process is nowhere as painful as it might seem, and you’ll definitely feel better for having done it. Remember, RAK Law and I are here to provide expert guidance and unparalleled service in addressing your Estate Planning needs.

Contact RAK Law Firm today to find out more information on how you can get started.

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