Many people assume that estate planning is only about saving estate taxes. Consequently, they often ignore estate planning because they assume that their estate is too small to be taxed.
Furthermore, many families assume that because Congress has reduced federal estate taxes—and may permanently eliminate them—they either don't need a formal estate plan or they can delay work on one. Regardless of what Congress ultimately decides regarding federal estate taxes, many estates—even modest-sized ones—will remain vulnerable to state inheritance and estate taxes.
But the main reasons that everyone needs an estate plan is much more than about taxes. Additional benefits include:
- Making sure your assets go where you want them to go
- Controlling assets while you are alive but incapacitated
- Controlling assets after death
- Minimizing the emotional and financial burden on your heirs
- Minimizing feuding among heirs over your estate
- Increasing the amount available for charitable donations
- Avoiding the cost and delay of probate
- Providing provisions for a guardian of minor children