1. Assemble a list of your current assets and liabilities.
Gathering your assets and liabilities will help determine if you already have or could potentially have a taxable estate. It’s helpful to gather this information now, because your loved ones will need to know what your estate consists of when wrapping up your affairs after you pass. Your loved ones will appreciate your efforts that you make today so that they don’t experience any hassle and unnecessary delay when your estate is distributed during this emotional time. Also important is identifying now how your property and accounts are titled so as to avoid any potential probate issues.
2. Determine who will receive your assets.
In 49 states and the District of Columbia you can disinherit anyone you choose except for your spouse, that is unless your spouse waived the right to your estate in a premarital or post marital agreement (Georgia is the only state where you can disinherit your spouse). Aside from determining your initial beneficiaries, you'll need to decide who will inherit your assets if a beneficiary predeceases you or if a charity you select is no longer in existence at the time of your death.
3. Decide how and when your beneficiaries will receive your assets.
There are basically two ways to leave your assets to your beneficiaries - outright or in trust. Which way you choose will depend on the beneficiary's age, health, and family and financial situations. An MH estate planning attorney will walk you through the needs of each beneficiary and then help you decide what to do for each one. You'll also need to determine what will happen to the assets remaining in the trust if the initial beneficiary dies before the trust funds have been completely used.
4. Choose someone to be in charge.
This is probably the most important step in creating your foundational estate plan - choosing someone who will act in your best interests if you become disabled, or in your beneficiaries' best interests after you die. You'll also need to select one or two backups in case your initial choice isn't able or doesn't want to serve. If you don’t plan today for the possibility of incapacitation, your loved ones will have to go through a very expensive and often times, humiliating court proceeding called a Guardianship and Conservatorship to be able to make decisions on your behalf.
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, 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.