My son is an avid wildlife photographer. We have a picture of a deer, swimming—yes, swimming away from a coyote. Observing this was a first for our entire family. A deer swimming—in a local salt-water pond? Once in a lifetime. But Sam says, “This is the rule of 10. You can guarantee that where we see 1 animal, there are at least 10 more watching us.” Well, in the elder law/and estate planning fields, there is also the rule of 10. Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t put off your estate planning!
1. Loss of Capacity: If you lose capacity, you lose the chance to dictate how you want your estate managed either while you are living, or after you have passed.
2. Minor Children: Who raises your children and manages their money if you die? Without a plan a court will make these choices.
3. Dying without a Will: Who inherits your assets? If you don’t say who gets your estate, the court will.
4. Blended families: If your family is the result of multiple marriages? Without a plan children from different marriages may not be treated as you wish.
5. Children with Special Needs: This should go at the top of the list. Without a plan your special needs child could be disqualified from receipt of Medicaid and SSI benefits and be forced to pay for care whatever he/she receives as a result of your death .
6. Keeping assets in your own family. Beware creditors, predators (the Coyotes?) and angry spouses. Without a plan, they win!
7. Financial Security: Without a plan your family may be unable to maintain their current living standard if you die.
8. Retirement account: Without a plan, your designated beneficiary may not reflect your current wishes. At Lannik Law we insist you check who your beneficiaries are even if you think you know who they are.
9. Business Ownership: Without a plan, you don’t name a successor, risking your family could lose control of the business.
10. Avoiding Probate: With a plan you can structure things to avoid probate entirely.