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Follow These 11 Steps as Part of an Essential Estate Plan

Whether your estate is large or small, there are documents and arrangements that are essential to your estate planning. Taking care of these items are a gift to your family and to yourself. Your family will have a plan with proper documents to carry out your wishes, and you will have peace of mind that your estate will be taken care of as you desire.

You will need an attorney to guide you through and help prepare documents for your planning. Depending on the size of your estate, a tax advisor may be necessary to help with all of the tax issues that may arise for you and then for your family. Both an estate planning attorney and tax advisor can save your estate money by avoiding common mistakes and tax pitfalls.

Make a Will

A legal will allows you to be in control of who will inherit your property. It is also where you name a guardian to care for children in case of you or your partner’s death. Using an attorney is essential as they will be aware of not only federal requirements but also the guidelines for the state where you live. It can vary by state, but for instance if you die in Arizona, your property moves under intestate succession laws where your assets will most likely go to your nearest relative. Drawing up a will leaves no questions regarding your wishes for your estate.

Establish a Health Care Directive

It is important to state what you desire for healthcare if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. The documents needed include a living will, a health care declaration, and a power of attorney for health care which states who will make those decisions in the event that you cannot. Some states combine the documents labeling them as an advance health care directive.

Read more at: Creating a Living Will Colorado to Protect Your Rights and Wishes.

Establish Power of Attorney

Similar to the health care directive, the durable power of attorney for finances will allow you to choose who has the responsibility of your property and finances if you are unable to handle them. The person you chose will be known as your attorney in fact or your agent and they will have authority over all of your finances during the time that you are unable to conduct business.

Take Care of Legal Issues for Your Minor Children

Like the power of attorney, you need to name someone to manage property and money for your children if you or your spouse die. It may be easier to name the same person you choose to be their legal guardian in your will.

Hire an Attorney to Draw Up a Trust

Choosing to place your property in a living trust will save your family from having to go through the probate process. With a small estate, this can be fairly easy but with a larger estate, it can be a long and possibly expensive process. Much of what you do in estate planning is making it easier for your survivors after you are gone, not adding burden to their grief.

Get Life Insurance

Many people have life insurance with the company where they work, others have to pay for it themselves. Consider a life insurance policy, especially if you have a young family or own a home where debts will be left after you die. This money can also be used to cover the cost of burial if necessary.

Be Diligent about Beneficiary Forms

Completing beneficiary forms for retirement plans, bank accounts, stocks or brokerage accounts will allow the accounts to automatically be payable to your beneficiaries. The funds you designate the beneficiaries for will be able to avoid the probate process.

Make Final Arrangements

Decide now whether you will donate your organs or body and whether you will be buried or cremated. If this is properly documented, it is more likely that your wishes will be followed.

Cover Funeral Expenses in Advance

There are several ways you can go ahead and cover the expenses for your funeral and burial. One is directly working with the funeral home to make a plan and pay for it. Another is setting up an account at your bank with funds which will pay for the funeral and all other expenses required upon your death. Your life insurance can also be used to cover these costs.

Find out How to Lessen Estate Taxes

Consult an expert like an estate lawyer or tax accountant to determine any issues your survivors will run into regarding estate taxes. Their advice will help you in making the proper decisions in estate planning.

Make a Business Plan

When you are a business owner, there needs to be a succession plan for your business if the event of your death. If you are the sole owner, you can plan what happens to the business and develop the plan. If you are a co-owner, you will need to possibly have a buyout agreement or other instructions for your partners.

Don’t Wait Until it is Too Late

Seeking out professional help from an attorney or tax advisor will help you to effectively plan and know your documents and plans are legally sound. Begin planning now to handle the essential documents and tasks for estate planning. These actions will give you peace of mind knowing if something does happen to you, your estate will be well cared for and your survivors will have what they need to carry out your wishes.