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Three good reasons to establish an estate plan

The importance of proactive estate planning cannot be overstated. Nonetheless, many put it off, choosing to leave critical legal and financial matters to chance (or in the hands of a judge). 

It's understandable--few of us want to dwell on death, incapacity and other issues that are addressed in an estate plan. Remember, though, once these issues are resolved and set in stone, you can move forward free from nagging concerns about the future.

Here are three good reasons to establish an estate plan sooner rather than later:

  1. Limiting future disputes: Without legal documents in place, your loved ones could be exposed to contentious disputes over the distribution of your assets and other issues. In the event you become incapacitated, your family may not be able to agree on what medical treatment you should receive. With an estate plan in place, the decisions will have already been made--by you, or by someone you have entrusted with decision-making authority.
  2. Avoiding probate: By utilizing living trusts and other legal instruments, you can allow property to pass directly to your heirs without requiring them to deal with the probate process. Probate is generally costly and time consuming. Even if you are not able to avoid it altogether, you can take steps to relieve some of the burden your surviving family members must endure.
  3. Protecting assets: Estate planning offers a broad range of asset protection measures. Depending on your situation, you may benefit from protecting assets from unnecessary taxation, lawsuits, creditors, long-term care and other avoidable money drains.

There are many reasons to establish an estate plan, and more and more people are doing so at a young age. It's never too early or too late to protect your assets, your wishes and your loved ones. To learn more about how legal planning can help you, talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer who can help you understand your options under California law. 

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