“If you don’t have a plan for your money and your life, someone else does: the government, the taxman, the medical community.” — David Kottler

David Kottler’s words serve as a powerful reminder of why estate planning is so crucial. When we fail to take control of our financial future and put our wishes in writing, we inadvertently hand over the reins to others. The government, the taxman, and the medical community may end up making decisions that don’t align with our values or desires.

Estate planning is the process of taking back that control. It’s a set of legal tools that allow you to dictate how your assets are managed and distributed, both during your lifetime and after you pass away. It’s a way to ensure that your hard-earned wealth goes where you want it to go and that your loved ones are cared for according to your wishes.

At the heart of any comprehensive estate plan is a will. This legal document outlines how you want your assets divided and who you want to take care of your minor children if you pass away. Without a valid will, the distribution of your assets will be determined by the laws of intestacy, which may not reflect your intentions.

But a will is just one piece of the puzzle. A robust estate plan should also include a power of attorney, which allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs if you become incapacitated, and a healthcare directive, which outlines your medical care preferences if you’re unable to communicate them yourself.

Trusts are another valuable estate planning tool. They provide a way to manage and transfer assets according to your specific wishes, often with more control and privacy than a will. Trusts can be used for various purposes, such as minimising estate taxes, providing for a special needs family member, or ensuring that your assets are distributed over time.

It’s also crucial to review and update your beneficiary designations on accounts like life insurance policies, retirement plans, and bank accounts. These designations determine who receives the assets in these accounts and supersede the instructions in your will.

We advise, you thrive. At WellsFaber, we understand that estate planning can seem overwhelming. But we also know that it’s one of the most profound acts of love and responsibility you can undertake for your family. By creating a comprehensive estate plan, you ensure that your wishes are respected, your loved ones are cared for, and your legacy lives on. And remember, your estate plan is not a one-and-done document. It should be reviewed and updated regularly as your life circumstances change. So take the first step today towards crafting an estate plan that reflects your values and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Your future self, and your family, will thank you.