Estate Planning is the way in which you determine, while you are still alive, where you want your assets to go when you pass away. Considerations should include, but not necessarily limited to, making a will, trusts, property ownership, powers of attorney, guardianships, custodian of money for dependent children, pet trusts and health care planning.
Smart estate planning means detailing how your assets should be disbursed, protecting the integrity of those assets, and properly empowering your heirs to carry out your wishes. It starts with preparing a detailed list of all your assets to discuss with your attorney and financial advisors. Any financial accounts should be itemized with account numbers, the proper titling, the value of each account, and the basis of the assets in each account.
Ideally, experts advise discussing your plans with loved ones and empowering them with the knowledge of where you keep your important papers, both legal documents and investing documents. Good organization and communications saves time and money later.
Estate planning is not a “set it and forget it” task because each time the laws change, your legal documents may need to be revised and updated. Read more about wills and trusts here.
In addition to the disbursement of assets, I highly recommend that you create a master plan for your health care as well.
Planning for your health care as you age is a crucial part of estate planning that should not be left to chance. I highly recommend that you plan ahead, so that you can be cared for in the manner that you want. This includes creating Advance Directives such as a Living Will, Health Care Surrogacy, and/or Anatomical Donation documents. You should always consult with your attorney about the details. Read more about Living Wills and Health Care Surrogates here.
Since wills are not always enacted immediately, a pet trust can offer a more timely arrangement for the care of the pet, while the will is being probated. A pet trust can also address the care for the pet in cases where the owner has become incapacitated. More on Pet Trusts here.
Guardianships are not just for the elderly. There are sometimes reasons why a guardianship may be established for a minor child. Read more on Guardianship here.
. . . should be done whether the individual is wealthy or not. The lack thereof is often the source of much familiar discontent, at a time when grief needs its space. Do your loved ones a favor and contact a qualified estate planning attorney today.