Estate Planning: The Valentine’s Gift That Keeps on Giving

what is estate planning

Valentine’s Day is the day to show someone you love them. 

It’s also the perfect day for starting a meaningful conversation about your future and that of your loved ones.

We don’t expect you to love the idea of estate planning. It’s not exactly romantic, but it will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. 

As the day approaches and cards, roses, and chocolates line the store shelves—consider investing in something that will last a lifetime.

Are you wondering, “What is estate planning, exactly?” If you want to know how it benefits you and how to get Valentine’s deal that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, read on to learn more.

What is an Estate Plan and Why Do I Need One?

Estate planning is arranging your financial affairs to ensure they are distributed according to your wishes if you die or become disabled.

It’s not just for the wealthy—everyone should have an estate plan, regardless of how much money they do or don’t have. 

Do you have savings accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, or other assets? Then you have an estate. And when you pass, you want to ensure your estate goes to the right people and that any problems are resolved without complication or conflict. 

Estate planning can benefit you by:

  1. Avoiding probate
  2. Reducing or eliminating estate taxes
  3. Protecting minor beneficiaries
  4. Expediting asset transfer 
  5. Sparing your loved ones the burden of making these decisions for you

Estate planning is a final act of love for your surviving loved ones, aiding their grief process and protecting their future.

What Should a Good Estate Plan Include?

Estate planning is unique to your family and financial dynamic. A complete estate plan can be as broad or specific as you like and include several types of estate planning documents. 

Here are four.

  1. Last will and testament. A will is a legal document that states how you want to dispose of your assets and money after you die.
  2. Trusts. A trust is an arrangement in which property (money, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) is held by one person for the benefit of another person.
  • Durable power of attorney. This allows someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf if you can’t do so yourself.
  • Advance healthcare directives (“living will”). These documents allow you to specify who should make medical decisions for you if it becomes necessary.

The key to good estate planning is doing what makes sense for your family in the long run.

Six Sweet and Sappy Valentine’s Day Estate Planning Tips 

Estate planning is about life. It’s about doing what we can today to ensure ourselves and the people we love have a better tomorrow. 

Keep these six tips in mind when planning your future: 

  1. Choose loving and caring guardians for minor children in your will
  2. Consider creating an “I love you” will that leaves everything to your spouse or children but also why that may not be the best option
  3. Review your beneficiary designations to ensure everyone in your circle is taken care of
  4. Consider giving the gift of a “gift in trust” that avoids taxes while creating generational wealth
  5. Plan your estate like you plan for Valentine’s—in advance
  6. Designate contingent beneficiaries or “backups” in case your original plans don’t pan out

You love the people in your life, and they love you. Why not make it official this Valentine’s Day with a valid estate plan that protects them no matter what.

Treat Yourself: Get Started on Your Estate Plan Today

There’s no time like the present to start the conversation about your estate plans and ensure they’re up-to-date. How about over a dinner for two? 

For all new clients creating or updating an estate plan with our team, we’ll throw in a complimentary Valentine’s dinner date on us

Reach out to our California estate planning team today to get started!

Author Bio

Julianna Malis is the Founder and Managing Partner of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, a Santa Barbara estate planning law firm she founded in 2014. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, she has dedicated her career to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid and Medicare planning, probate, and other estate planning areas.

Julianna received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar Association.

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