As people age, their focus tends to shift from taking care of themselves to ensuring that their loved ones are cared for after they are gone.
Having an estate plan is a good idea for everyone, regardless of age or health status. It is particularly important if you have any children who are minors. Without a plan in place, decisions involving important issues, such as personal care providers, the ultimate distribution of your assets, and for younger parents, guardianship of your minor children, could be decided by the courts. In addition, your estate or your surviving family members could be left with a large estate tax bill that could be readily avoided by proper planning in advance.
The term “estate” refers to all of the property that a person owns or controls. It includes:
Real property and the things attached to it (houses, buildings, barns, etc.).
Personal property (vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cash, furniture, jewelry, collectibles, etc.).
Businesses and business interests (inventory, tools, equipment, accounts receivable, etc.).
Life insurance and annuity contracts, pension benefits, IRAs, 403(b)s, etc.
Debts and obligations owed to others.
All claims the person has against others, such as for the pain and suffering from a motor vehicle accident.