The First Step in Estate Planning
Making plans for your wealth and assets after passing away is not a task that anyone is overjoyed to take on, as it entails visiting your own mortality. Thankfully, there are legal professionals who can guide you and answer questions as you prepare your estate planning documents. If you pass away without having a valid will or trust, then the state will decide what is done with your assets based on state law. Not having this control over what happens to your legacy can add more stress to your loved ones, who will already be grieving the loss of you.
Where To Begin
If you aren’t sure where to start in writing your estate plan, the first step can be making a list of all your assets, including intangible and tangible. Examples of assets include property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, 401k, deeds, art, jewelry, boats, vehicles, savings accounts, and sentimental items. After you have completed this list and found the appropriate paperwork for them, you can start on writing up your list of beneficiaries. In other words, there are people close to you that you want to have a portion of your assets after you have passed on.
Consider these questions to ask yourself:
- What individuals and organizations do you want to have a part of your legacy?
- If you have young children, who do you want to take over guardianship of them in the event of your passing before they are adult age?
- Are there sentimental items you want passed onto specific beneficiaries?
- Who do you trust to follow your wishes as written in your estate plan?
- How do you want your remains to be handled?
If the prospect of tackling this first step along feels debilitating, don’t hesitate to recruit help from a lawyer who has experience in estate planning. Just a few examples of responsibilities your estate planning lawyer can handle include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Estate and probate administration
- Prepare estate related documents
- Minimize estate taxes
- Prepare returns for estate taxes
- Prepare health directives and powers of attorney
- Communicate with beneficiaries
- Made changes/edits to current estate plans