What is Estate Planning and Why It Matters
Estate planning is what some may consider a necessary evil. It can be very uncomfortable to think about, let alone discuss, how you would like your assets distributed after your passing. When you factor in heavier decisions, like who takes guardianship of any minor children, or who takes over your business, it is no wonder many people delay or neglect proper estate planning altogether.
Aside from the overall discomfort, many forego estate planning because they simply do not understand its importance. According to a recent study, only forty-two percent (42%) of Americans have estate planning documents in place.
In this article, we will explain what estate planning is, why it is so important, and how to get started.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of preparing how you would like your assets distributed upon your death or incapacity, and documenting your desires as it relates to end-of-life medical care. It is a fairly common misunderstanding that estate planning is reserved for the wealthy. Actually, everyone who owns property, has money in a bank account or owns personal items has an estate and should plan for its orderly distribution.
Aside from determining who receives what from your estate, an estate plan may also contain crucial components that could keep your loved ones from having to make complex decisions for you, such as:
- · Naming guardians for any minor children
- Naming administrators of your estate in the event of incapacity or death
Why is Estate Planning So Important?
Estate planning has many benefits irrespective of estate size or personal circumstance. Almost everyone can benefit from having estate planning documents in place that speak to their personal needs, including, but not limited to the following:
- Power of Attorney
- Advanced Medical Directive
Having your documents prepared by an experienced Maryland Estate Planning Attorney will greatly decrease the chances that your estate will be subject to the probate process, which can be both emotionally and financially draining.
Business Succession Planning
Not only is comprehensive estate planning important for families, but it is vital that Maryland business owners have a strategy as well. In 2014, Maryland small businesses employed 1.1 million people – which accounted for a little over fifty percent (50%) of the private workforce. With those numbers, it is safe to say that regardless of whether you have been in business for twenty years or two, creating a succession plan is important. When establishing your business’ succession strategy, here are some points you should consider:
- Identifying your team of core advisors
- Determining whether family members desire to and are qualified to run the business
- Identifying key employees to help run the business
- Determining a schedule of when and how the business will transition to your successor
- Incorporating your personal estate plan around your business succession plan
Many business owners fail to establish a succession plan in advance. Unforeseen illness or death of an owner can throw a company into an unrecoverable, downward plunge. A solid succession plan can detail what to do in the event of an owner’s untimely death or incapacity.
Having an experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that your wishes are outlined appropriately under Maryland law. The Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC can assist by drafting estate planning documents that secure your assets, honor your wishes, and safeguard against the public Maryland probate process. Contact us today in our Annapolis Office at 410-995-7719, in Laurel at 301-358-4340 or visit our website at elsawsmithlaw.com to learn how we can protect you, your family and your business.