You may not be aware that National Estate Planning Awareness Week occurs every year during the third week in October; however, estate planning —often an afterthought — is one of the most important things you can do for your family. According to The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, it is estimated that 56% of Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan!

Who Should Have an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is preparing for your family’s future when you pass. Failing to plan ahead can have unfortunate financial and personal consequences for your family. For example, if you have minor children, it can leave them without resources or delay access to your assets. If you own a house, you could pay unnecessary taxes or lose control of how your assets are transferred. See more Estate Planning FAQs from AAFMAA.

What Is an Estate Plan?

While you may think that estate planning is only for the wealthy or elderly, it’s actually an essential part of having a solid financial plan at any age, which can help protect you, your family, and your assets. Everyone who has property to pass on should have an estate plan.

Why Is Estate Planning Important for Military Families?

Here are 5 reasons estate planning is a vital part of a financial plan for military spouses and their families. You can:

  1. Make your intentions known. Most people don’t realize that if you don’t have a will, the State will distribute your property according to their plan (called intestate succession). An estate plan ensures that you give your possessions to the people you want, and prevents it from going to those you’d like to exclude.
  2. Take care of your family. Picking a legal guardian, someone who watches your child until they’re 18, is one of the most important reasons to complete a will. If you don’t name a guardian in your will, a judge will decide who will raise your child based on who he/she deems most appropriate.
  3. Donate to your favorite charity. One of your goals may be to leave assets to a charity or non-profit organization in the event of your death. This form of donation is known as an endowment, legacy gift, or planned giving and can be set up in your will.
  4. Avoid delays. Every will gets submitted to a special court, called a probate court. The last thing you want is to give a large portion of your assets to the government in the form of probate fees. Nor would you want your loved ones to wait months, even years to receive a penny. Having a Living Trust helps this process move quickly.
  5. Have an executor represent your wishes. An executor is arguably the most important person you’ll name in your will. They’ll be responsible for paying down debt you’ve left behind and distributing your assets, along with other details in your will.

National Estate Planning Awareness Week is the perfect time to make sure your affairs are in order in the event of sickness, an accident, or untimely death. Each state has specific laws regarding estate plans, so be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney. An AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust Relationship Manager can help provide guidance by connecting you with vetted attorneys in your area.  If you already have a plan, it’s a good time to review your plan to make needed adjustments to beneficiary designations or modify retirement accounts and insurance policies.

Information provided by AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC is not intended to be tax or legal advice. Nothing contained in this communication should be interpreted as such. We encourage you to seek guidance from your tax or legal advisor. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

More Tips for Planning Out the Future:

Solutions for Your Military Family:

Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Home Mortgages, Survivor Services, and more. Learn more about AAFMAA.

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