Estate planning is one of the most important steps any person can take to make sure that their final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence.
Regardless of your level of wealth, estate planning is a vital part of your overall financial plan. Planning ahead can give you greater control, privacy, and an opportunity to leave more of your legacy to your loved ones.
Though often overlooked or put off in favor of more immediate concerns, a comprehensive estate plan can resolve a number of legal questions that arise whenever anyone dies:
– What is the state of their financial affairs?
– What real and personal property do they own?
– Who gets what?
– Does a personal guardian need to be appointed to care for minor children?
– How much tax will need to be paid in order to transfer property ownership?
– What funeral arrangements are appropriate?
Estate planning is for everyone
It is not just for “retired” people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate planning is not just for “the wealthy,” either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
Too many people don’t plan.
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.
If you don’t have a plan, your government has one for you, but you probably won’t like it.
At your death: If you die without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your country. In Malaysia, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
Given the choice—and you do have the choice—wouldn’t you prefer these matters be handled privately by your family, not by the courts? Wouldn’t you prefer to keep control of who receives what and when? And, if you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them if you can’t?
Planning your estate will help you organize your records and correct titles and beneficiary designations.
Would your family know where to find your financial records, titles, and insurance policies if something happened to you? Planning your estate now will help you organize your records, locate titles and beneficiary designations, and find and correct errors.
Most people don’t give much thought to the wording they put on titles and beneficiary designations. You may have good intentions, but an innocent error can create all kinds of problems for your family at your disability and/or death. Beneficiary designations are often out-of-date or otherwise invalid. It is much better for you to take the time to do this correctly now than for your family to pay an attorney to try to fix things later.
Estate planning does not have to be expensive.
If you don’t think you can afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford. For a young family or single adult, that may mean a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Then, let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this yourself to save money. An experienced estate planner will be able to provide critical guidance and peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly.
The best time to plan your estate is now.
None of us really likes to think about our own mortality or the possibility of being unable to make decisions for ourselves. This is exactly why so many families are caught off-guard and unprepared when incapacity or death does strike. Don’t wait. You can put something in place now and change it later, which is exactly the way estate planning should be done.
The best benefit is peace of mind.
Knowing you have a properly prepared plan in place – one that contains your instructions and will protect your family – will give you and your family peace of mind. This is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and for those you love.
What to expect
Learn about estate and gift taxes, wills, trusts, and other important concepts so you can plan your estate with confidence. Learn basic principles of how to take action on your estate plan, including what to consider as you choose the people who will support the process. We will help to ensure that your beneficiaries get the most from your legacy by keeping your plan up to date.
Regardless of your age, or the size and complexity of your estate, an estate plan can accomplish the following:
- Identify the family members and other loved ones that you wish to receive your property after your death.
- Ensure that your property will be transferred to those you have identified, as quickly and with as few legal hurdles as possible.
- Minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to others after your death.
- Avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by utilizing estate planning devices like living trusts and “payable on death” bank accounts.
- Dictate the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.
Your estate plan may bring new financial needs to your attention. Let us be your trusted partner every step of the way, with our broad range of options.