Estate planning: a valuable New Year's resolution

The last days of 2017 are upon us. In just a few short weeks, Quincy residents will flip the calendar over to the New Year. As they do, many will embark upon New Year's resolutions. Getting into better physical shape, giving up bad habits and trying new things are all common and laudable resolutions. One less common, albeit of perhaps even greater importance than these, should be creating an estate plan.

Some may put off estate planning for another year with the excuse that, because their estates are not taxable, an estate plan is not necessary. It's true that taxable estates are in the minority of estate plans. However, there are benefits to having an estate plan besides minimizing potential tax obligations.

The major advantage to having an estate plan is that one can indicate how one's assets should be distributed after death. This means that important decisions won't fall to family members, who may disagree and even turn to litigation in the absence of an estate plan. In this way, drafting estate planning documents is an act of kindness that helps reduce the potential for stress and turmoil for one's family.

Another advantage is that a well-crafted estate plan will keep the State of Massachusetts from calling the shots. For residents who want to preserve assets for their heirs, and especially those who own their own businesses, this will be an important concern. Avoiding probate through careful estate planning can help deliver peace of mind to those doing the planning as well as their families and loved ones.

As families gather for the holidays, look around and consider what resolutions would truly make a difference in their lives. Estate planning in collaboration with an experienced legal professional should be near the top of the list for 2018.

Source: Birmingham Business Journal, "Why an estate plan should be a resolution for 2018," Aimee Burgess, Dec. 14, 2017

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