If you are new to the concept of estate planning, it can be a bit intimidating at first. After all, your finished estate plan should accomplish a number of extremely important things, including protecting you, your assets, and your loved ones both now and in the future. Given everything your plan can, and should, do for you and your loved ones, you may not know where to start to ensure that your finished plan works as intended. Your estate planning attorney will work with you to provide the legal framework for your finished estate plan; however, there are a number of things you can do prior to meeting with your attorney that will help ensure a successful consultation and a finished plan that accomplishes everything you want it to do. To help you prepare, the estate planning attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC provide a check list for creating your estate plan.
- Make a list of all assets you currently own. Include current value and any debt or encumbrances. In addition, include helpful information such as where the asset is located, any passwords necessary to locate the asset, and anything else that might be necessary for an Executor to manage the asset during the probate of your estate.
- Make a similar list for all debts you currently have. Include the current payoff amount, when the debt is scheduled to be paid off, and who owns the debt. As with assets, also include helpful information such as passwords or payment schedules.
- Write down all the people, organizations, charities, and even pets to whom you wish to make gifts in your estate plan. The specific type and amount of the gift you can decide on with your attorney; however, information such as your relationship to the beneficiary and a current address should be included.
- Business interests. If you own a business, or have an interest in a business, write down as much about the business as possible. Also, take some time to think about what you want to happen to the business should something happen to you.
- Every well thought out estate plan has an incapacity planning component. If you were to become incapacitated tomorrow, who would you want to take over control of your assets and have the authority to make health care and personal decisions for you?
- Long-term care. Do you have LTC insurance? If not, how do you plan on paying for LTC if it is needed in the future? If you cannot afford to pay for LTC out of pocket, you likely need to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan.
- Throughout your estate plan, there will be opportunities to name fiduciaries, such as the Personal Representative (aka Executor) of your Last Will and Testament or the Trustee of a trust agreement. Do not make the mistake many people make of naming the first person to come to your mind. Stop and think about the duties and responsibilities involved and then name the right person to the role.
- Advanced directives. Many people have very specific wishes about end of life medical care. If you are one of them, you need to put those wishes in writing in the form of an advanced directive to ensure they are honored. In addition, you can name an Agent to make decisions for you if you cannot make them. Who do you want to be your health care agent?
- Funeral and burial. If you also have specific wishes about your funeral and burial services, those can also be put down in writing to ensure that they are honored. Take some time to think about what is important to you and discuss it with your estate planning attorney.
By thinking about all of these things ahead of time you will have a much more productive consultation with your estate planning attorney. Ultimately, that will translate into an estate plan that focuses on the things that are important to you and your loved ones.
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your estate plan, or if you are ready to get started with your plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.