What is Estate Planning?

What is Estate Planning?

How do you want your affairs to be handled if the unexpected (or unthinkable) occurs? Getting started on drafting your estate plan can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Why Estate Planning is Important

Why does an estate plan matter? An estate plan is a written document that details how you want  your personal and financial affairs to be handled in the case of your incapacity or death. It's much more than just a will – an estate plan is more comprehensive and helps to ensure your assets are seamlessly transitioned to your loved ones. Additionally, estate plans are especially important if:

  • You want to minimize costs and confusion at the time of your incapacity or death
  • You have family members who are dependents, such as minors, disabled children, or elderly parents 
  • You want to minimize taxes

Every estate plan should include:

  • A Will and/or Trust. Even if you don't have many assets, your will or trust ensures any property is handed down according to your wishes. 
  • Financial Power of Attorney. In the event that you become incapacitated, drafting a durable power of attorney will ensure your designated person is authorized to act on your behalf for any financial decisions. 
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney. This ensures you have a designated person to make critical health-related decisions on your behalf. The person should be someone you trust – typically a spouse or family member. 
  • Health Care Directive. Also known as a ‘Living Will', this written statement details a person's desires regarding their  end of life care.
  • Beneficiary Designations. Several assets, including life insurance and retirement accounts, can be passed down outside of a will. Therefore, identifying the beneficiaries of each asset will save a lot of stress and uncertainty. Otherwise, a court could decide how your funds are distributed.

Remember – state laws vary. These documents should be specific to your needs and circumstances, must meet a variety of legal requirements to be valid, and should be drafted by an attorney. 

Have questions? Need help finding an attorney to get started? Contact BECU Trust Services at 206-812-5176, or becutrust@becu.org

Helpful Resources

BECU Trust Services is a trade name used by Members® Trust Company under license from BECU. Trust services are provided by Members® Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Trust products not federally insured, not subject to credit union or affiliate guarantee, and may lose value.