During an individual’s lifetime, he or she must have acquired substantial assets which would be left on earth upon death, and as such, there becomes a rising need to plan for how these assets will be disposed, protecting these assets before they get disposed while minimizing the taxes and costs that come which such disposition. Some wish for their assets to fall into the ownership of their spouses and children only, others having no surviving family may wish to leave their funds to charity.
When an individual dies without leaving instructions regarding his or her estate, then the State in which he or she had lived or owned assets would have to step in to decide what happens to those assets. There are probate laws known as laws of intestacy which influence the court’s decision on how such assets would be distributed.
Simple guide to plan your estate
Take inventory of your assets
Take a careful and detailed list of all material items which are in your name, including assets as large as real estates, and those as small as jewelries, antiques, etc. It would speed things up by naming a beneficiary for each item. After listing the physical material items, make a detailed list of all non-tangible assets such as bank accounts, insurance policies, IRAs, and list their location of the documents containing your ownership agreement, as well as information on the companies involved.
Prepare all the essential estate documents.
One smart way to plan your estate is to have documents such as living trust, last will and testaments, advance medical directives and power of attorney.
Revise and Upgrade your estate plans.
Estate plans are essential. Through these documents you can decides and make plans on what happens to you, your assets and also the beneficiaries of these assets. Asides creating estate plan documents such as trust, last will and testaments, advance medical directives etc. you should make plans for upgrading and revising these legal contracts and document. You can do these with the help of an estate planning lawyer.
Consider complex family issues.
You should consider one or more of the following cases and see if you fit into these categories that requires that you constantly revise your estate plans; you own and manage one or more businesses, you have minor children or you don’t have any children, you have a disabled family member, or you have one or more health issues, you are married, divorced or in a second marriage etc.
Major Estate planning documents
Important estate planning documents you need;
- Wills A will is a document which designates the beneficiaries of your estate upon your death, its executor, a guardian for your minors, and transfers your “pour-over” assets into a Revocable Trust.
- Revocable Trusts
All assets transferred into a revocable trust will pass on to beneficiaries through a trustee without the publicity and fees associated with probate. You can take advantage of death tax credits and assets protection with revocable trust by establishing trusts for your surviving family, thereby bypassing death tax or claims from creditors.
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A Durable Financial Power of Attorney appoints a fiduciary to manage your estate affairs upon your incapacitation, without having to go through the court process of Guardianship application.
- Health Care Power of Attorney
This designates an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf during incapacitation.
- Living Will
With a living will, you can avoid being put on life support or hydration when you become terminal or an unending vegetable state.
Contact Estate planning lawyer
You will need guidance and assistance from experienced estate planning and elder law lawyers. You don’t have to do all of this alone. With help, you can plan your estate smartly. Planning now for the future with an estate lawyer would never be regretted. Preparing now for the future over your financial and medical affairs would save you and your loved ones a whole deal of stress and troubles. One wrong document or inclusion or signatory could mean or signal a whole different thing and may jeopardize your wellbeing or your estates at risk of loss and probate with the beneficiary or trustee not getting it.
It is also important to note that state laws rules over estate plan. They dictates what should be included in will, trust or power of an attorney, these state laws also regulates how the documents are filed and its implementation. This emphases the un-denying importance an estate planning attorney.