In case you are asking yourself “what is an estate plan?”, we’ll begin with a definition. Upon your death, your estate plan lays out your wishes with regards to your assets (e.g. finances, properties, possessions, etc.).
Many people mistakenly believe that their amassed possessions would not total a significant sum, negating the need for an estate plan. However, this is often an all-too humble view of one’s assets. For example, assets could include a family home, any motor vehicles, any savings or money resting in a bank account, furniture, white goods such as a TV or refrigerator, electronics such as a smartphone or tablet, and any other personal possessions (which may include collectables, jewellery, tools, and bicycles).
Why is an estate plan important?
Should you suffer a mentally incapacitating injury or illness, or in the event of your demise, the decisions over how your assets will be divided between your loved ones will be made either in accordance with your estate plan, or in accordance with the views of strangers. This word “strangers” may come as a stark realisation, but in the absence of an estate plan, the legal executors of your estate may in fact be people who do not know you (and although their actions may be carried out with compassionate considerations in mind, they are unlikely to act in exact accordance with your wishes).
What is included in an estate plan?
An estate plan is not a singular consideration or “tool”. An estate plan involves a range of preparations that spell out what is to happen to your estate when you are not able to pass comment.
An estate plan includes:
- Composing a will & naming the person in charge of administering your wishes in accordance with your will (this person is called an executor or administrator).
- Naming guardians if you have any minor or adult dependants.
- Funeral arrangements (part of your estate planning may involve making payments towards your funeral).
- Naming beneficiaries of your assets, including whom is to receive any life insurance payouts and retirement funds.
Who needs an estate plan?
When asked when someone should invest in estate planning, there is a saying among estate planning companies that now is the time to invest in estate planning – no matter how old or young. Young families, for example, may benefit from care home planning just as much as the elderly – twists in life due to unforeseen circumstances mean that taking the time to plan now is always the answer.