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The Best Valentine Gift May Not be Flowers or Candy – Give Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind

This year, consider showing your love for your partner and family members by getting your estate in order. Why? Begin with the pain caused by the loss of you as a beloved partner, parent, and provider. Now add sorting through boxes, calling banks, looking for an attorney or accountant, and dealing with the courts. People who die intestate leave behind a mountain of bureaucratic navigation and hoops to jump through before the estate can be settled.

A quality estate plan is an important legal document that saves your friends and family time, money, and anxiety about the future. It’s also a way of expressing your caring commitment to those you leave behind, as well as respect for your own life and legacy. A general estate plan is essential for everyone, and if you are the parent or guardian of a child with a disability, a Special Needs Trust (SNT) must form an essential part of your planning.

Married couples often seek joint representation in estate planning, meaning they both utilize the same estate planning lawyer. Joint representation can be cost-effective and can be more efficient since you can work together on creating a plan. Another advantage is that the joint representation allows both members of the couple to have a say in decisions like beneficiaries (such as children and grandchildren), executors, and disposition of property.

Individual representation is always another option. Seeking separate legal counsel can help couples avoid conflicts of interest. For example, a difference of interests may arise if one or both people have children from a previous marriage/relationship that will be named as beneficiaries. Additionally, if each partner has an individual estate planning lawyer, it may be easier to voice individual concerns and desires that don’t coincide with the partner’s ideas.

Estate Planning is an often-overlooked element of financial wellness. It is estimated that over half of Americans – 56% – do not have an up-to-date estate plan. If something has been standing in your way when it comes to establishing or updating an estate plan, see our Clearing the Cobwebs about Estate Planning post.

Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler’s estate planning attorneys are here to make the process as painless and gratifying as possible. So why not make this month of love your month for being proactive about planning for your family’s future. Call us today with your questions or for a consultation. Peace of mind is a priceless gift — but flowers and candy can still be the icing on the cake!