Estate planning does not refer simply to the act of leaving one’s material possessions to one’s heirs. In today’s modern society, there may be many unique circumstances that don’t fit that model. In addition, many individuals may want to plan for the contingency of needing someone else to make their health care and financial decisions.
Accordingly, a more apt description of estate planning would be using legal instruments to carry out an individual’s wishes for how he or she would like to dispose of personal assets, and to also appoint a decision-maker in the event of incapacitation.
According to a recent article, charitable giving is becoming an increasingly common trend in estate planning. Notably, individuals interested in this option may not necessarily be without families. In one example, the individual decided to leave half of her estate to her grandniece, and the other half to a handful of charities. In another example, a couple wanted to leave their assets to a drug and rehabilitation center for the purpose of endowing an anonymous scholarship. The couple has children, but thought that the prospect of an inheritance might create sibling rivalry or disputes. Since their children were financially ok, the couple instead decided to create the scholarship fund.
Yet the approach to planned giving should not be undertaken without a thorough understanding of the different legal instruments available. In that task, an attorney that handles estate planning can offer great assistance. An attorney that focuses on estate planning knows that no two situations are alike.
Source: The New York Times, “In Estate Planning, Family Isn’t Always First,” Caitlin Kelly, May 2, 2014