Estate planning is the process of deciding who will inherit your property if you die or become incapacitated. One goal is to ensure heirs and beneficiaries receive assets in a way that controls and reduces estate taxes, gift taxes, and other tax implications, which is sometimes done with the help of an attorney.
More than merely creating a will is involved in estate planning. Accounting for all of your assets and ensuring that they are distributed as easily as possible to the people or entities you want to receive them is an important part of a comprehensive estate planning checklist. Along with implementing your plan, you must guarantee that everyone, including your legacy planning corporate trustee, is aware of it and understands your objectives.
The most typical estate planning blunder is avoiding it entirely. Unfortunately, this is a widespread error. People postpone estate planning for a variety of reasons, including a dread of its complexity, a refusal to recognize the inevitability of death, and the belief that it is unnecessary. Another reason is that they don’t understand what is estate planning in the first place. The truth is that nearly everyone can benefit from some form of estate and legacy planning, so don’t let excuses keep you from getting started.
Here are the best tips for estate planning.
#1 Think about trusts
Consider a trust as a receptacle for money intended for your heirs. You choose what goes into the trust, who receives what, and how it’s dispersed. An adequately constituted trust can aid in executing your plan exactly as you intended. Make sure you engage with a lawyer specializing in estate planning and trusts.
#2 Put together a group
Working with a team that includes a financial advisor, tax specialist, and estate planning attorney can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Each individual is crucial to the process. The goal is to ensure that your assets are distributed to the persons and organizations you desire with the least amount of uncertainty possible.
#3 Make a list of your possessions
Taking an inventory of all your assets is the best approach to begin estate planning. Identifying these issues ahead of time can save you a lot of effort later on, especially if you’re working with an attorney or on a joint plan with your spouse. Keep your list somewhere you can refer to it and update it. Include all of your investments, any real estate or property you own, and valuable personal property, among other things. An asset inventory can also be helpful in different situations, such as when applying for homeowners insurance and determining how much coverage to get.
#4 Guardianship for Dependents should be established
If you have any dependents, such as a juvenile or someone you care for who has special needs, you must name a guardian. Make sure you speak with your designated guardian ahead of time to obtain their permission. However, keep in mind that they do not have to manage the funds left for your child’s benefit. Consult your estate planning attorney for advice on preparing for the unexpected.
#5 Manage Your Insurance
Life insurance and annuities, like retirement assets, will pass directly to beneficiaries. To check that your beneficiaries are up to date and stated appropriately, contact any life insurance firms where you have policies.
#6 Choose a Trusted Estate Administrator
When you die, your estate administrator or executor will be in charge of carrying out your wishes. It would be best to choose a decision-maker who is accountable and in a healthy mental state. Don’t automatically assume your spouse is the best option. Consider how the emotions surrounding your death will affect this person’s ability to make decisions. It is best to consult a qualified individual if you anticipate a problem.
#7 Examine Your Retirement Funds
When you die, your accounts and policies with designated beneficiaries will be transferred to those individuals or corporations instantly. It makes no difference how these funds or policies are distributed in your will or trust. Priority will be given to the beneficiaries listed on the retirement account. Contact your employer’s customer service team or plan administrator for a current list of your beneficiary selections for each account. Check each of these accounts to make sure the beneficiaries are current and listed exactly the way you want them. This is especially important if you’ve divorced and remarried.
#8 Other Important Documents to Fill
A will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and living will should all be created. You should also include guardians for any minors and pets in your will. Consider establishing both financial and medical powers of attorney so that people you trust may handle your affairs in the event of your death. You can also provide step-by-step instructions as well as your personal wishes for things like your funeral or what to do with your digital assets like social media accounts in a letter of instruction.
#9 Generate duplicate copies of your lists
When you’re done with the estate planning paperwork, sign your lists and create at least three copies of them. Your estate administrator should receive the original. Give the second copy to your spouse and keep it in a safe deposit box. Keep the last duplicate in a safe place for yourself.
Everyone, regardless of age or money, ought to plan their estate. You can direct how those items are allocated to people you care about with an estate plan. If you don’t make these decisions regarding your estate while you’re still alive and having control, an authoritative entity or figure will do it on your behalf. And the results may not reflect your preferences or meet your family’s needs. So think about our top estate planning tips and choose the finest solution for you.