Sadly, a recent fatal car crash in Kansas City, Missouri reminds us of the need for estate planning. The reality is that we never know when tragedy may strike, but for our families’ sake we need to be prepared just in case. Earlier this month, a serious car crash occurred at 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, leaving one victim dead and two others injured. The severe collision left debris scattered on the roadway. The driver of one of the vehicles involved had to be extricated from the vehicle and rushed to the hospital.
Fatal wrecks are more common than we would like to admit
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s traffic safety report, more than 51,000 people were killed or injured in car crashes in the state of Missouri. That’s one crash every 10 minutes. In the same year, 786 of those people were killed as a result of their injuries. About 15% of those accidents occurred in Kansas City. What these sobering statistics suggest is we all need to be prepared.
Why You Need an Estate Plan
Estate planning is one way to prepare yourself and your family for death and even for the possibility of incapacity during your lifetime. There are a several different options when it comes to estate planning tools. Which ones are best for you will depend on your unique goals for the future. Your Missouri estate planning attorney can help.
An estate plan allows you to determine how to handle your estate after your death
The other purpose of estate planning is to create a plan for handling your estate after your death. One of the primary estate planning instruments used to establish what to do with your assets after your death is the Last Will and Testament, or will for short. A will is essentially a set of written instructions on how your estate should be distributed after your death. A will can also provide a way for you to nominate a guardian for your minor children. A disadvantage of a will, however, is that your estate must go through the probate process before your assets can be distributed.
The basic elements of an estate planning
A proper estate plan should do more than just tell the world who should get your property after your death. Instead, a comprehensive estate plan may also include the following:
- instructions for your care if you become disabled or incapacitated before your death,
- the name of a guardian and manager for the inheritance of minor children,
- provisions for loved ones with special needs,
- provisions for loved ones who may need financial assistance or asset protection
- life insurance policies for your surviving family,
- disability income insurance if you become unable to work, and
- long term care insurance to assist in financing your medical care in case of an extended illness or injury.
The time to create your estate plan is now
The reason most clients put off estate planning is they believe they are either too young or don’t have enough assets. Neither of these assumptions is true. First, you are never too young because, the reality is, you cannot predict how long you have. Nor can you be sure that an unexpected illness or injury won’t leave you incapacitated. Because of that uncertainty, the best course is to start your estate plan sooner rather than later. If for nothing else, do it for your family. The families of clients who don’t have a plan, will ultimately be left to pick up the pieces without knowing where to start.
Estate planning is not as expensive as you may think
For many, the idea of creating an estate plan seems far too expensive, especially for those with modest incomes. What you should know is, you can always start with a simple plan initially and then update or upgrade it as your financial circumstances change. It is better to have something, than nothing at all. Starting small is a good choice for single individuals and young families. Then, as your needs and the needs of your family change, you can adjust your plan accordingly. An experienced Missouri estate planning attorney can provide the necessary guidance and peace of mind you need.