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11 Non-Tax Reasons for Estate Planning

Estate planning is not done only to save taxes. There are many non-tax reasons to do estate planning, all of which will remain important even if Congress eliminates or reduces estate taxes. The following is a list of some of the non-tax benefits of doing estate planning.

1. Protecting Minor Children – Guardians:

If you have minor children, then you can specify who will act as guardian of your minor children. Only you know who will be the best guardian for your children. Don‟t leave this decision in the hands of the court.

Do Nothing: You allow the Courts to decide who will raise your children.

2. Protecting Minor Children – in Trust:

You can establish a trust for the minor children if you pass away.

Do Nothing: Your children will receive your assets when they turn 18.

3. Keep Your Estate Matters Private:

Probate is a public procedure. In other words, anyone can find out about your assets, liabilities and names/addresses of your beneficiaries.

Do Nothing: Strangers will be able to find out how much your children are inheriting and when.

4. Specific Gifts:

A will or trust is essential if you want to give a specific item to a specific person or charity.

Do Nothing: Your cherished family heirloom may go to someone who won't appreciate its sentimental value.

5. Certainty:

Even if you are happy with the way assets would pass under California's intestate statutes, those laws may change. A change could cause the assets to be distributed in a manner different than what you would have wanted.

Do Nothing: Your wishes will not be followed.

6. Decide Who, When and How:

You decide who, when and how your beneficiaries will inherit your assets when you die.

Do Nothing: You will not control the distribution of your assets upon your death.

7. Protecting Beneficiaries from Creditors:

You can provide that the inheritance to your beneficiaries is structured in such a way that will also provide asset protection.

Do Nothing: Your children may lose their inheritance in a divorce or to creditors.

8. Providing for Individuals with Special Needs:

You can provide for people who may have special needs (i.e., parents or persons who have specific medical or physical disabilities) without jeopardizing their government benefits.

Do Nothing: Your special needs child could lose their government benefits or, worse, be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.

9. Peace of Mind during Incapacity:

You can appoint someone who will act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Do Nothing: You may lose precious benefits by not having someone in line to pay your insurance premiums, healthcare premiums and other important bills during your incapacitation (i.e., hospitalization or permanent disability).

10. Peace of Mind for Health Care Decisions:

You can appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. You may also include instructions on whether or not to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures if you are in a "terminal condition."

Do Nothing: You could be left on life support for a long period of time all at the expense of your family.

11. Personal Representative:

You can be assured that a personal representative of your choice will be appointed to control your assets upon your death.

Do Nothing: You allow the court to dictate who will control your assets upon your death (i.e., your relative who means well, but has problems handling their own affairs).

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