Estate planning is devising a plan for assets to include in a will to ensure they pass on to the chosen beneficiaries in the event of your death. The chosen beneficiaries could be immediate and extended family members, associates, and even charity organizations.
There is a misconception that estate planning is for ultra-wealthy people only, but nothing could be further from the truth. During their working years, most people buy properties and invest in schemes that will continue generating profits even after they pass on. As a result, your assets after death must be protected to continue your legacy, benefit your dependents and even establish a path for creating wealth for future generations.
To plan your estate well, you should hire an estate planning attorney. This is a professional well-versed in this field; they can be the executor of your will in the event of your demise. If you don’t hire an attorney at will, your dependents could fight amongst themselves for your property. Also, undocumented creditors can exploit legal loopholes to claim your property.
To ensure your life’s work isn’t lost, you should hire an attorney for estate law to help you divide your assets. Still not convinced about the importance of estate planning? Check out our in-depth discussion below to learn more.
Estate planning may be an uncomfortable subject, but you will eventually have to deal with the issue due to the realities of life. Such planning will determine how and who inherits your property and wealth after you no longer need them.
You may have asked yourself, “Can I do my own estate planning?” The answer is primarily yes, because there are some things you can do on your own, including the creation of that most important document, the will. Online wills are legally valid provided they follow established guidelines. Additionally, a will needs to be signed and normally requires two witnesses. You may also consider creating a living will to deal with the possibility of physical incapacitation.
You may have also wondered, “Can a financial planner prepare a will?” In this case, the answer is no, simply because such planners lack the authority to complete legal documents. However, a personal adviser may work with a lawyer to complete an estate plan.
Cheap estate planning may be desirable, but estate planning attorneys can ensure that their clients have done everything in the proper manner. The nearest association of estate planning attorneys group can provide the referral that you need.
If you plan to use estate planning trusts you will need to sign over your assets into the name of your trust in order for your beneficiaries to be able to gain access faster. Even when using estate planning trusts there are some things that you should do in order to make it easier for beneficiaries to gain access other than signing over assets. Your estate lawyer will be able to assist you in more detail as far as specific steps that need to happen but here are a few things that you should be checking off your estate planning checklist right now.
- Writing a Will
If you pass away without a will then you are basically choosing to let total strangers determine how you earthly goods will be split up. State law will have to intervene and will divvy up your estate between the spouse and children primarily and then other relatives. Should you not have any living family, all of your assets will go to the state. In the even that you have not secured anyone to care for any children under the age of consent in a legal will, a guardian will be appointed by the court. A will is not expensive to write. You can write up a will for less than $70 if you do it yourself, otherwise a lawyer can draw you up a simple will for about $300.
- Securing Life Insurance
If you don’t have any one to support or you already have enough money saved up in order to support your dependents then you don’t really need life insurance. However, estate planning trusts suggest that if you are the one earning the income at the moment then you will need to secure a way for the bills to get paid once you are gone. Figure out how much it would cost to pay off all your debts as well as fund college for children or other financial goals as well annual income. This number is about how you’ll need in life insurance coverage. Life insurance is usually spread out over about 20 years and be quite affordable.
- Avoiding Probate
The probate process is when you executor settles all of your debts and proceeds to divvy up your property. Once you pass, this could go one of two ways: one being as simple as feeling out some forms and paying for the filing fees but the other situation involved thousands of dollars and months of painful processing. however, if your estate is valued at less than $200,000 you may automatically qualify for a waiver but if not, making certain arrangements such as wills, life insurances, banking agreements, etc, can avoid the probate all together.
- Delegating Control
Estate planning trusts will tell you that estate planning is not only for when you die but it is also to take care of the same situations should you not be able to even if you are still alive. If you have wishes that need to be carried out by your family members, they will need three specific documents: power of attorney, release of information and advance directives.
Power of Attorney: This allows your delegate access to your finances and legal affairs in order to manage them and make decisions regarding them.
Release of Information: This allows doctors to share any of your medical records with your delegated people.
Advance Directives: This is much like a power of attorney regarding health care. It designates someone to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. This would include any medical treatment that you would like, or not like, at the end of your life.
Having all of these documents and arrangements taken care of because you die or become unable to make decisions will make life a lot easier for those caring for you before and after your passing. It’s difficult for a loved one to pass away, no matter what the circumstances are, and it’s even harder when your family is not even able to mourn you properly and grieve for you because their time is all tied up in fighting to take care of your affairs because you didn’t draw up the proper papers. Do your family a favor and make things easier on them.