Painless Estate Planning

Estate planning is a necessary thing, but it can seem like a hassle. Only between 35% and 45% of all Americans have a will. This is partially because individuals don't like to think about their own mortality and assume that they won't pass away until they are older. The fact is, it is important to prepare a will so that your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of a bizarre and unfortunate accident. Every day, people die unexpectedly. While no one wants to admit this possibility, it is a very real concern.

Thankfully, with the help of a skilled real estate law attorney, estate planning can be a relatively simple and painless process. It is important that you understand why you need a will. Without one, your assets will go through a probate process. Each state has a predetermined pattern with which they funnel assets to a decedent's family members. This pattern may not be reflective of how you would like your assets divided.

Having a will on hand will make sure that the family members you care for get the money that you have worked hard to earn for them. You shouldn't let a judge who has never met you or your family determine who gets what in your estate. Wills also allow a parent to nominate guardians for minors. If you should pass away before your children become adults, the will can help to make sure that your children are cared for by a family member or friends, rather than by the foster care system.

Once you have determined that you need a will, you are going to want to pick your team. Get a trusted estate planning attorney on your side. Determine what assets you will need to divide. Make sure to include all retirement savings, insurance policies, real estate or business interests, collectible and sentimental items, and investments.

Then determine if you want any of these accounts to be managed after your death. Determine who will execute your will, and pick trusted family members or friends to handle your finances should you become incapacitated. Also determine who should be permitted to make medical decisions on your behalf if you can't make them yourself.

After you have made all the hard decisions, an attorney can help you to graft your will. You will want a professional there to make sure that all of the language in the will is specific and helpful. Without reliable language, your relatives may bicker over the meaning of a word or phrase in the will for years.

You will also want to name an executor to your will. This person will be in charge of distributing your property, filing all tax returns on behalf of your estate, and processing claims from creditors. Your executor could be a friend or a relative, or may be a professional like a lawyer. Regardless of who you pick to be your executor, make sure it is someone tactful, informed and trustworthy.

You may also want to assign a power of attorney as a part of your estate plan. This will allow someone to handle your finances if you should become incapacitated. You can choose a durable power of attorney, which will go into effect immediately after receiving your signature or a power of attorney that will go into effect should you become incapacitated. A healthcare power of attorney also allows a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you should be incapacitated and unable to make these choices on your own. Make sure to update your will regularly when there are big changes in your family. For example, if another child is born, or if you get a divorce, you will want to factor these changes into your will. Contact a trusted estate planning attorney at if you want more information.