Estate planning isn’t necessarily an easy thing to discuss. For one thing, it has a lot of moving pieces, including both legal and financial considerations that can seem daunting. For another, estate planning requires us to think about our own mortality—never exactly pleasant. With that said, however, knowing the estate planning basics is imperative. Even with the best of intentions, you can’t protect your legacy or care for your family apart from a well-thought-out estate plan.
In this post, we’ll introduce a few simple points that can help you get started on the right foot with your estate plans.
Tally It Up
One of the key activities in estate planning is protecting your assets, and passing them down to the desired beneficiaries. Among the first things you should do, then, is make sure you have an accurate inventory of those assets. Tally up any and all items that can be considered as estate planning assets. These should include tangible assets, like real estate, but also intangible ones, like social media profiles and investment accounts.
At the same time, list any outstanding debts and liabilities that need to be paid in full; that, too, is important consideration for tallying assets.
Know Your Beneficiaries
Once you have identified the assets that comprise your estate, the next step is identifying the people who will receive them. These are your beneficiaries, and as you identify them, you can also work with your estate planning lawyer to identify the legal procedures necessary for transferring your assets to your beneficiaries quickly, all while reducing tax burdens.
Note that, in addition to listing family members or friends to whom you wish to leave assets, you might also list any charities or non-profits you would like to support through your estate.
The Distribution Talk
One of the trickiest parts of the estate planning process is determining exactly how your assets will be divided and distributed—that is, who gets what. Maybe you want everything to go to your spouse—easy enough! But what if you and your spouse die concurrently? You’ll want to have other provisions listed in your estate plans. (Disclaimer trusts can help here.)
You don’t necessarily have to plan things out to every last dollar or cent, but do have a basic idea of how you want assets divided before you meet with your estate planning lawyer. Your attorney can help you narrow things down further.
Finalizing the Legal Particulars
Once you cross these big-ticket items off your list, you’ll need to start thinking about some specifics—including:
- Who will serve as the executor of your will?
- Do you need a trust, such as a grantor retained interest trust or grantor retained annuity trust? And if so, who will serve as trustee?
- What about such documents as Financial Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directives?
- In what circumstances should you amend your estate plan, with something like a codicil to will?
These are slightly more advanced estate planning considerations, and it’s important to discuss them with a skilled estate planning lawyer, who can help you iron out all the details.
Get Help with Advanced Estate Planning
Indeed, estate planning is something you should start thinking about with your family—but ultimately, you’ll need to pursue it with the guidance of skilled estate planning professionals. Singh Law Firm more than meets that description.
No matter your basic or advanced estate planning needs—including any questions about advanced healthcare directives or disclaimer trusts—we can help. Reach out to Singh Law Firm to start going over the details of your estate plan.