September 13, 2018
Farmers often hear that they need an estate plan, but when do you start? A new short course from the University of Wyoming Extension offers information for creating a valid will in the state, making health care decisions and setting up trusts.
The university points to a caring.com survey showing that only 42% of U.S. adults have estate planning documents such as a will or a living trust. And for those with children under 18, the figure is lower — at 36%.
The Extension publication series Planning Ahead, Difficult Decisions offers a start with the estate planning process. This program, while not focused on farmers, could be an icebreaker toward getting the conversation going on your farm, too.
The first entry in the series is Introduction to Estate Planning, and it is available as a free interactive short course through Extension’s online course catalog. The course takes 30 to 40 minutes.
One of the authors of the new series, Cole Ehmke, noted that estate planning can be confusing and time-consuming, “and people tend to say ‘If I die …’ but serious injuries — after which you can’t make your own decisions — and unexpected death do happen.”
Ehmke is an Extension personal finance specialist, and he suggested taking care of affairs now, because delaying may limit options. Planning now can cut confusion and trouble regarding who gets what property (and when), who will make decisions and what exactly you own.
He added: “Planning can minimize conflict among heirs, protect privacy, minimize taxes and even increase the size of your estate through life insurance.”
Many think that this planning process is only for those with larger “estates,” but Ehmke shared this advice: “Ask yourself, ‘What happens to my assets and my loved ones when I die?’ Everyone who has property has an estate; and if you don’t have preferences, the statutes of the state of Wyoming will tell a court how to proceed, including how to take care of any dependents you have.”
Find other free personal finance courses form UW Extension, including “Personal Financial Literacy: Understanding and Avoiding Credit Pitfalls” and “Wyoming Tax Facts,” go to uwyo.edu/uwe and click on the “Extension online courses” button.
Source: University of Wyoming
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