The short answer is yes. If you care what will happen to the assets your worked your entire life to procure, then you must make reparations. Estate planning is more important today than ever.
If you pass away and you have not done any estate planning the legal term for your estate is intestate. There is a statutorily mandated scheme that divides your assets amongst your heirs. Having a will is one step up. It will allow you to specify to whom you want certain assets to go. So if you want your granddaughter to get your jewelry you can specify that in a will.
The problem will both instate and wills is that they are governed by a legal process known as probate. Probate is the process by which the Courts divide your assets and give them to your heirs. Probate is expensive and can take a very long time. Meanwhile your hard earned assets could be going to your probate attorneys with very little left for your family.
The next step up in estate planning is to set up a trust. By having a trust your assets avoid the probate process. You transfer your assets into your trust which typically you have complete control over during your life time. Then your appointed trustee takes over the trust after you are gone. The trustee will divide your assets according to your direction thus eliminating the need for the Court.
Not only does a trust save your assets for you heirs, you can literally reach out after death with a trust to control the actions of your heirs. For example if you want your grandson to go to college before he inherits from your estate you can specify that in a trust. These types of trust are called incentive trusts.
You can also make specific provisions in your trust for the care of your pets. We call these pet trusts. With out these provisions many pets are euthanized after the death of an owner. These are just a few of the options you can set up in a trust.
Finally it is very important to set up powers of attorneys for yourself. Powers of attorney allow your designated representative to make decision for you in case of emergencies.
Even if you already have these documents it is important to have them revised every few years so that they are current with new state and federal guidelines These are just a few types of estate planning tools that can be implemented by a licensed attorney to shelter your assets. You should consult a lawyer and develop a plan that helps you to keep the assets which you work so hard to procure. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or representation.