Whether you are young or old, an estate plan is always a good thing to have. Not only does it allow you to provide for your loved ones, but it can also make your passing easier for them: You will already have made some of the most important decisions that need to be made in settling your estate.
Whether you have a tremendous amount of assets or a small amount, you still will want to control where those assets go as well as other details regarding your estate. That is where a will comes in. If you pass away without a will, the state in which you reside will control your assets, which may be contrary to your wishes.
How does an estate plan help you?
If you have an estate plan that you have populated with the proper documents, there will be some documents that are meant to help you and your estate in the event that you become incapacitated and others that are meant to help you after you have passed away.
The three main concerns that are satisfied by your estate plan are the instructions that will determine how your property and health care will be managed in the even that you become incapacitated, how the responsible person (a person whom you have appointed yourself) will administer your estate after you have passed and probating your will so that your property can be distributed as well as avoiding taxes, if possible.
What are the estate planning questions that you should consider?
- If you become incapacitated: In the event that you become incapacitated, who should you trust to manage your assets and property as well as paying your bills?
- If you cannot make health care decisions on your own: If you are incapacitated and thus unable to make decisions concerning your health on your own, you will need to appoint another person who can make those decisions for you, including taking you off of life support, if necessary.
- Getting your assets when you pass away: Before you pass away, you will need to designate exactly who will inherit your money and your property once you are no longer here.
- Administering your estate after you die: You will need to appoint someone to manage and administer your estate after you pass. That person is usually referred to as your personal representative.
- If you have minor children at the time of your death: You may need to make additional provisions if you have minor children. For example, if you won’t have a surviving spouse, you will need to appoint a guardian to take care of your children until they are no longer minors as well as providing whatever provisions you wish for them.
- The tax situation once you die: A tax situation may or may not come up after you are gone. Since your estate will be responsible for paying a death tax, you may want to do some tax planning to get everything in place now.
Are there other important things to consider in your estate plan?
The important documents in your estate plan are a will, trust, life insurance beneficiary assignment, 401(K) plan and IRAs, powers of attorney for health care and property, buy-sell agreement(s) and living will. There are many different details that must be considered when it comes to estate planning and everything that is at all a part of your estate must be considered carefully. You should proceed carefully so that you don’t leave out anything or anyone important.
Working with an estate attorney with expertise and experience can really help you to ensure that things will run smoothly now and into the future. It will also give you peace of mind that you didn’t forget to include anything that should have been included.