Most folks don’t look forward to planning for two of life’s guarantees: death and taxes. However mundane or morbid you view this task, there is planning to be done no matter what your station in life. When properly planned the harshness of both death and taxes can be mitigated.
Through my experience as an estate planning attorney, I have outlined five basic areas that you need to consider when implementing your plan:
- Select an estate administrator: The administrator is the person who is in charge when you pass. This should be a responsible person with the time and acumen to carry out your wishes.
- Select your beneficiaries: These are the people and/or charities that will get your stuff upon your death. If you do not designate beneficiaries via a trust, will, TOD designation, or other method, the state will dictate who gets the stuff from your estate. Whatever planning tool you use should be accessible by your estate administrator. Used properly, that the right tool can minimize taxes and provide asset protection to your beneficiaries; it is a good idea to discuss your strategy with an estate planning attorney.
- Asset inventory: This is a list of all the stuff you own (like bank accounts, life insurance policies, real estate . . .). When you die, your estate administrator will need to know what you have and who to contact to collect and distribute. Creating a list of physical and non-physical items that you own will ensure that no asset is left uncollected. This inventory should be accessible by your estate administrator upon your death.
- Asset review: After the inventory is complete, the beneficiary designations and/or titling of all accounts or policies should be reviewed to ensure that they are in line with your wishes. This is also a good time to consolidate assets for ease of management, if you’re able. Bringing the account statements, deeds and policies to your estate planning attorney will help you align your wishes with how the titling and beneficiaries read.
- Create a debt list: Much like the assets inventory, you should make a list of your debts. If the administrator knows what debts will need to be settled upon your death, distribution of your estate can be accomplished more quickly and efficiently.
These five basic considerations can make life easier for your loved ones and for your administrator. Your asset inventory and debt list are also a good tool to help you get a grip on your current expenses. Discussing your goals with an estate planning attorney and reviewing your plan is the best way to ensure you’ve addressed all issues unique to your estate.
Contributed by Morris Hall PLLC Phoenix , Prescott Estate Planning Attorney, Andrea L. Claus.
About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation
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