Did you know that over half of American adults do not have any form of last will? What most people do not realize is that this usually causes different times of problems within the family in the event of death or disability.
For example, if both parents die suddenly in an accident, this can leave the fate of their children to the hands of the judges. The children may not be in favor of the situation that they will end up in but they cannot do anything about it.
Now if you are injured and incapacitated during an accident, the medical care choices may not be the ones you prefer but you have no control over it because you will no longer be able to express your preferences.
These and other problematic scenarios can be avoided with estate planning. Even those that do not have massive wealth or assets should still get their affairs in order. This is actually the best gift they can leave behind their loved ones.
To do estate planning the right way, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
Make an inventory of all your assets and liabilities
By doing this, you will be able to determine your net worth and at the same time, all the components that make your entire estate. You will also need to find out if you are dealing with assets such as life insurance policies that can be exempted in the probate process. It’s important to do your homework prior to consulting an estate planning lawyer to make the planning easier and less time consuming.
Make a list of your beneficiaries
Decide how you want to distribute your assets. Make a list of the people you want to receive your assets. Then determine how you want them to receive these assets. Do you want them to receive the assets directly or through a trust? If you have minor children, you would want to assign a trustee who will manage the money and assets for them before they reach 18.
Assign a trustee
You need someone whom you can trust to oversee and carry out your estate plan in the event of your demise or disability. Do you want the trustee to be one of your family members? Or do you prefer to leave these affairs to a lawyer or even a corporate trustee? Usually, the decision will depend on the types of assets that you have.
Choose a type of plan
For most people, writing a will is the preferred option. But there are those who would rather opt for the living trust. You need to determine the pros and cons of each option so that you will be able to make the right decision. For example, the living trust provides the benefit of excluding most assets in the probate process and at the same time, reducing taxes.
Hire an estate planning lawyer
Most experts agree that estate planning should not be turned into a DIY project. While it’s true that there are now many online tools that you can use to set up basic estate planning documents and that this will save you money upfront, it’s also true that estate planning is a highly complicated task best left to the hands of someone who’s experienced and knowledgeable.
Hiring an attorney who specializes in this area will actually save you more money in the long run. He/she will walk you through each step of the process to ensure that you don’t encounter any issues and problems.
You can ask relatives and friends for referrals, or you can also check out the services offered by the state bar association. The American Bar Association also provides a directory of lawyers that you can contact for this purpose.
Do not let your estate cause any problems within the family. Consult a lawyer and do this before the unexpected happens.