While perhaps an unpleasant topic, planning your estate can save your loved ones from a lot of unnecessary stress and expenses once you pass. Some of the following estate planning basics can help you to begin organizing your finances and assets.
Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney is the easiest route to take. An estate planning attorney will be familiar with all state laws regarding what happens to your assets when you pass. Begin by following an estate planning guide that can help you to get started on your own by gathering all the necessary documents. Once you’ve gathered the documents – it is time to meet with your attorney to look things over & begin creating you plan. This can save you some money, while still ensuring that all estate planning documents are legally binding.
Most everyone knows that a will is an essential part of estate planning. However, with only a will, your loved ones will still be forced to go through probate (a process in which the courts approve your will) after you’ve left them. This takes time, and often money, leaving less of your estate available to your loved ones and more stress as they arrange for your final wishes to be carried out. To avoid this – add a revocable living trust to your estate planning checklist in order to avoid probate entirely. With a revocable living trust, your successor trustee is able to carry out your wishes once you pass without subjecting your loved ones to expensive and time consuming processes.
Other estate planning forms that you’ll want to either store with your estate planning attorney AND in a place known to all of your loved ones include:
– Beneficiary forms (be sure these are up to date – beneficiary forms for IRAs or life insurance policies take precedent over your will)
– Durable financial power of attorney
– Durable health care power of attorney
– Living will
– Inventory of assets
– List of contacts (including bankers, lawyers, tax advisors, utility/service providers)
– Guide to digital assets (passwords to online banking and other important information)
– Funeral arrangements
– Trusts (Be sure to set up trusts for any minors you’d like to leave any of your assets to so that they can access these assets once they are of age)
A local estate planning law firm, like Appleby Healy Law, can provide an estate planning questionnaire so that you can use to get started planning your estate. For more detailed information on estate planning – contact Appleby Healy Law in order to your appointment scheduled today.