When you’re young—just starting out in your career, maybe, or planning to have a family—estate planning may be the furthest thing from your mind. It’s critical to understand, however, that your future isn’t already secured. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns that could happen in an instant—robbing you of your assets or even worse, leading to incapacitation or death.
It’s important to prepare for these surprises early in life, ensuring your assets are fully protected. In this post, we’ll show you how you can start estate planning now.
Knowing the Basics of Estate Planning
You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in advanced estate planning, but it does help to know the basics. When we talk about estate planning, we’re talking about:
- Ensuring that all of your assets are appropriately distributed to your loved ones—something you might do through a will, irrevocable living trusts, etc.
- Ensuring that guardianship is arranged for your children (if you have any).
- Clarifying your end-of-life-wishes, should anything happen to leave you incapacitated.
- Avoiding tax penalties, probate court, and other potential burdens on your family members.
An estate planning or living trusts lawyer can explain any of these items in greater detail.
Who’s Who of Estate Planning
Another key aspect of estate planning is knowing the cast of characters—and there are more of them than you might think. There are the inheritors (beneficiaries) and the asset owner, of course, but also the executor. This is the person who is actually tasked with carrying out the details of your will.
In many ways, the executor is the most vital person in the entire estate planning process. Make sure you put some thought into selecting a trustworthy person for this role.
Get Your Papers in Order
There are a number of key documents associated with the estate planning process. You probably know about wills and irrevocable living trusts—but again, there’s a bit more to it than that. Also consider:
- Powers of Attorney
- Living wills
- Health Care Proxies
- Lists of beneficiaries
- Lists of liabilities (don’t overlook cosigned debts)
- Lists of assets (including retirement savings—especially the 401(k) and IRA)
In addition, you’ll want to make sure you properly document any online assets, passwords, account information, etc. There is really a lot of paperwork to collect, and you’ll want to make sure you have it all well-organized and stored somewhere safe.
Ultimately, you’ll want to meet with an estate planning attorney who can help you get a basic plan in order—and perhaps answer some more advanced estate planning questions, as well.
But that’s not the end of the process. Estate planning is a dynamic process, and you’ll need to review your estate planning documents often—accounting for new tax laws, family changes, additional assets you acquire, etc.
That’s what makes it important to have an estate planning attorney whom you trust—someone you can meet with at least once a year or so to make sure your estate plans remain current.
Start Estate Planning Today
Estate planning is complicated for everyone—and especially for those who have never done it before. But it’s also an important way to protect yourself and your family against an uncertain future.
Make sure you start estate planning sooner rather than later, with guidance from an estate planning or living trust lawyer. Singh Law Firm can help you navigate this process efficiently and effectively. To learn more, reach out to our team directly and ask to speak with a qualified wills lawyer in California.