Your Legacy: Plan Your Estate Today

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You are growing older each day. As much of an unwanted reminder that may be, it too comes with the joys and woes you have experienced all throughout your existence.  We all reach an age where we find ourselves inundated by the inevitable. Perhaps this has happened to you when the doctor provided some news about a condition or you looked down at your birthday cake only to see more candles than icing. As much as we shy away from talking about it, death is the one experience we all share in common. 

As society has it, it is essentially too taboo of a topic. However, in not talking about it, we lose out on much-needed information during our lives. By this, I am of course referring to the planning of an estate or a will. You may think the act is only for the wealthy who has plenty to go around and need the organization that planning offers. But the fact of the matter is, you too, could benefit from the organization and planning of an estate or will. 

For one, it allows what you have—be it a little or a lot—to be allocated to the people you would like. No amount is too small because what happens after your death is a tale to be told. Time and time again, we hear the horror stories of one member of a family passing without a will and their money bringing horrific family feuds to the dinner table. 

The simplest solution is to create a plan. An estate plan boils down to an arrangement outlining the future of your valuables and assets—think houses, cars, life insurance, pensions, stocks, even debts—after you are gone. Establishing one with a lawyer ensures there are no holes in your plan or desires. A will is not dissimilar, as it is a legal document ordering what items go to which loved one. An estate plan, though, takes the process further and incorporates some belongings a will does not cover. As painful as it may seem to contemplate your own death, you would be doing your family a great service. After your death, the division of property, funds, and other valuables could turn complicated and even aggressive in nature. Having your wishes visible in writing has the ability to hold up in court. Your family, friends and other loved ones you leave belongings to, will also be more likely to respect your wishes if you declare them beforehand. 

Pre-planning is always a good habit to get into. Luckily, if you do pre-plan your estate or will, it translates into direct savings for your loved one’s bank accounts. They will not need to take on the headache of paying a lawyer after your passing if you already did the bulk of the work while you were living. Money is also saved since you have to pay probate costs when you draft a valid estate plan. Without one, the state you resided in will have a say in how your possessions are disseminated. This option does not even guarantee it will go to your family. 

If you are a minority, you might already be at a higher risk of not seeing the need to have these affairs in order. You would be making a large mistake and contributing to the $2 billion that probate fees cost families left behind each year, states Black Enterprise Founder, Earl G. Graves, Sr. It only goes to show that much is to be done on that front. Graves goes on to mention that collectively, African-Americans hold about 2 million businesses in the United States. If these businesses are not rightfully handed down to the next of kin, then they are subject to your state’s decision as to who will receive it. This is a route no one should aim for. There is a dire need to protect minority-owned assets. In doing so, it will help contribute to the future of minorities as they use the funds and property gained from estate planning to attend college and build businesses in the coming age. This creates an ever-sustainable economy if the cycle can continue on. Preserving your family’s wealth could never be a bad idea.

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