Estate Planning for Seniors

Estate Planning for Seniors

  • Betsy Phillips
  • 03/8/22

We know that death is not the most pleasant conversation to have as you’re getting ready to buy or sell, but at such an important time in your life, you need to consider your estate plan. If you haven’t already created a plan, now is an important time to do so! If you already have one, pull it out again because you’ll need to update it after making this big life change. 

Let’s break down exactly what an estate plan is and why it’s so important to have one. 

5 reasons estate planning is critical

Estate planning allows you the opportunity to decide what will happen to your estate when you die. Here are 5 reasons why having an estate plan in place is so important:

1. Can help with taxes

Just by having an estate plan, you can reduce a lot or even all of your federal and state estate and inheritance taxes. You can also decrease the income taxes that your beneficiaries have to pay. Let’s just say this: If you die without an estate plan, your loved ones, or whoever is taking over your estate, may have to pay the IRS quite a pretty penny.

2. Gives you power over your health 

An estate plan can be helpful to you before you pass away, too. You can include a Healthcare Power of Attorney to appoint someone to carry out the healthcare wishes you have specified in the event you are unable to convey them yourself. Make sure you give this role to someone you trust with your life, because it could come to that point.

3. Allows you to put your legal affairs in the right hands 

The same concept as a Healthcare Power of Attorney applies to your legal and financial matters. In your estate plan, you can designate a Financial Power of Attorney to take care of these important matters for you if you reach a point where you’re unable to handle them yourself. Again, make sure you assign this important responsibility to someone you trust. 

4. Saves your loved ones time and money 

If you pass away without having a will in place, your estate is considered “intestate” – which means the court decides who receives your assets. This can be a lengthy process, as the probate court appoints someone to distribute your assets to surviving relatives, following the legal line of succession. 

While this is all happening, your assets are frozen. The court has to comb through every detail of your belongings and financial situation. 

All these legal bills add up, and since you’re not alive to pay for them, guess who does? Your surviving family. If you have an estate plan, all this can be avoided.

5. Benefits your loved ones

When you create an estate plan, you get to decide who you’d like to leave your belongings to. You can leave an inheritance or trust to your children or their children, or you can leave donations to your favorite charity. 

Designating who gets what will reduce family drama after you pass away, because there won’t be any need to fight over who gets your beautiful vacation home in Florida, or your beloved strand of pearls, for example. You will have already decided who gets these things.

 

Why do you need an estate plan when buying or selling your home? 

Your home is, if not the most, one of the most important things you own, and you need to designate who will inherit it when you die. 

If you already have an estate plan in place, don’t assume you’re done with it forever. Since you’re about to buy a home and sell yours, it’s time to update your will! If you die and your will hasn’t been updated since you lived in your last home, your new home isn’t taken into account, and the courts will have to decide who gets your current home. 

The Bottom Line

 While the movies may depict the myth that only ultra-wealthy people have an estate plan, this is far from the truth. Everyone needs one to protect themselves and for the benefit of their loved ones. 

To learn more about what goes into buying and selling your home, or if you're looking for a highly recommended real estate agent to help in the process, contact Betsy Phillips.

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