Estate Planning FAQ

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If you are making decisions regarding the distribution of your assets, then you may be wondering which estate planning option is best for you. You can create a number of different types of documents that make certain provisions for you or your family in the event that you pass away or are unable to make decisions. To make sure that you properly prepare for end-of-life decision, you should speak to an estate planning lawyer near you. A legal professional will be able to explain the benefits of different actions, as well as what opportunity would be best for your specific situation. For answers to common estate planning questions, please see below:

What is estate planning?

Estate planning allows people to maximize their existing assets to their own advantage, or to the advantage of their beneficiaries. It also helps families better understand what you wish to be done with your money or care, which can reduce confusion, stress, and disputes. The end of one's life should be spent in peace, not conflict.

How do I know if I need an estate plan?

Everyone can profit from having an estate plan, even if your estate is not large. If you do not own a lot of property or assets, it is helpful to create an estate plan so your family and the courts clearly understand your desires for your remaining holdings or any end-of-life care. If you are in a more complex situation, then it is especially important that you begin an estate plan as soon as possible. The more complex situations could include the following:

  • Federal/state tax on your property
  • Owning a business
  • Large retirement accounts
  • Significant amount of life insurance
  • Sizeable inheritance

What should my estate plan include?

Each estate plan should include some basic documents to ensure that your future has adequate preparation. Because each person's circumstance is different, however, every person's estate plan will look slightly different. Consult with an estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate plan has everything it needs. Here are some of the documents that you may want to include to make sure that you have made complete arrangements:

Will:a document that states how your property should be distributed at the time of your death. In this document, you may want to appoint an executor for your estate and guardians for any children that are still minors.

Living Trust:a legal document that appoints beneficiaries of your assets after your death. You can appoint yourself or another as a trustee of the assets to be used for your benefit during your lifetime. This can help you avoid probate court because in the eyes of the state, the property is legally your beneficiaries.

Power of Attorney:a document that gives authorization for a person to act on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You can appoint a representative for financial affairs, asset management, healthcare matters, or whatever else you choose.

Advance Healthcare Directive:this document specifies the end-of-life care that you'd like to receive in the event that you cannot express your wishes. This helps communicates your desire to medical professionals and family that may be trying to make decisions on your behalf.

Business Succession Plan: a document that explains what should happen to your business such any successors or even the sale of the business.

Your estate plan may need additional documents, depending on your situation. Make sure that you receive counsel from an attorney in your area to ensure that you don't leave anything out.

What are the duties of an executor?

When a family member or friend dies, the executor will be responsible for estate administration. The first step will be to gather and appraise the assets of the deceased in order to accurately determine the value of the estate. After that, creditors will have to be paid. If the debts are more than the estate is worth, then court will decide which creditors should be paid first. Any assets that remain will be distributed among the beneficiaries named in the will.

What are the benefits of estate planning?

Estate planning has a number of different benefits for those who take advantage of it. First, it outlines how you want your estate and person to be dealt with once you can no longer make decisions or pass away. It also removes the burden of complicated estate administration from any loved ones that are trying to make the same choices you would have.

Estate plans can also protect your assets from individuals that are trying to take more than they deserve. A properly drafted plan can also maximize your assets for your beneficiaries by avoiding probate court or other hefty taxes. Ultimately, estate planning can give you peace about your assets and that they will be dealt with according to your wishes.

How often should I review my estate plan?

If you set up your estate plan early in life, you should make sure that you review it after any major life event. There are quite a few changes that happen during the course of your life which may alter your approach to an estate plan. Review your estate plan if any of the following occur:

  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Birth or Adoption of a Child or Grandchild
  • Marriage or Divorce of a Child or Grandchild
  • Inheritances or Other Asset Gains
  • Business Acquisition or Sale
  • Retirement
  • Move to a Different State
  • Change in Estate Planning or Probate Laws

If any of these occur, then your estate plan may be impacted. It may be a wise choice to reassess your estate plan with your attorney at the beginning of each year. A competent estate planning lawyer will be able to inform you if there has been any major change in the law.

Find an Estate Planning Lawyer in Your Area!

If you have further questions about your estate plan and related laws, then be sure to contact a lawyer in your area. There are many knowledgeable estate planning attorneys that can assist you in finding the best option for your circumstances. Don't leave your future to chance! Find an attorney now by clicking here.