By Jackie Bedard, Wills & Trusts Attorney, Carolina Family Estate Planning, Cary, NC

Just as you begin to relax after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it hits you.  It’s tax time!

For most people tax time brings up images of boxes of random receipts and hours of searching for documents.  Trying to get ready to do your tax return or organize for that yearly meeting with your tax preparer is a necessary evil.

What if you could avoid April 15th?

Imagine this, what if we could use the excuse that we are “too busy” or we were just not organized enough to do taxes?  How many of us would actually get around to doing them?  Not many, I’m guessing!

I know this is true because I hear it all of the time when people put off doing their estate plan!

But here’s the thing…just as Benjamin Franklin said over 100 years go…

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

The thing is, people do plan for taxes each year.  Whether it is because you are expecting to get a tax refund or out of a sense of obligation, you faithfully file your taxes.  But what if I told you that those two critical reasons for doing your taxes are the exact same reasons you should do your estate plan? Let’s explore further…

“I’m too busy to do my estate plan.  I’ll do it later.” Unlike tax season we do not know the exact date that we will die.  But that date will come.  It’s no fun to think about this, but there will be a date where we will die.  If you pass away without an estate plan you will leave a mess for your family to deal with.  Do you really want your loved ones dealing with a financial nightmare or would you prefer to take a deep breath, face your fears, and make things as easy as possible for them?

“I have better ways to spend my money.” Yes, doing your estate plan will cost you money, but here’s the thing.  It could cost your family a LOT more in taxes if you choose not to put an estate plan in place.  Do you really want the money you’ve worked for all of your life going to Uncle Sam instead of your family?  The bottom line is that you can pay a little now or your family will pay a lot later!

Truth is, we don’t know our life’s “deadline.”  We don’t have a government body like the IRS looming over us threatening us if we fail to do our estate plan.  But, the consequences that your loved ones will face if you fail to take care of this can be just as bad.

So, once you’ve gotten your documents organized for your tax preparation, why not go ahead and schedule an appointment to discuss estate planning for your family?  Then you’ll have the peace-of-mind of knowing that your family will be taken care of no matter what.

P.S. Need a quick list of which documents you should keep for tax purposes and which you can toss?  Check out this summary from Consumer Reports.

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