estate-planning-basicsRegardless of your net worth, preparing an estate plan is an important step for almost everyone. It protects your long term interests and ensures that your beneficiaries are provided for after your death. Having an estate plan in place can provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on the present, knowing that your affairs are in order.

There are several things to consider when developing an estate planning basics. First, you must consider what assets you have. Your assets include personal property and real estate, as well as any investments, bank accounts, insurance policies and business interests.

Once you have identified your assets, you should consider who you would like to inherit each of them. A trust is an essential part of making sure that your assets end up where you want them to, and is also where you should indicate who you would like to become the guardians of your children if you die.

In addition to naming guardians for your minor children, a will serves the purpose of pouring over to your trust any assets you did not get into the trust while alive, without the full expense, time and exposure of a regular probate proceeding. A trust allows you to dictate specifically when and how your assets will be distributed, and may help minimize the taxes that will be owed on your estate when you die. In addition, trusts can be used to help protect your estate assets from creditors.

Planning for Incapacity

While a large part of estate planning focuses on what will occur after your death, another important consideration is what will happen if you become incapacitated during life as a result of illness or injury. Considering these issues in advance can help spare your loved ones the difficulty of making these decisions if the situation ever arises, and gives them the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

A medical power of attorney authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them yourself.

A living will, also known as an advanced health care directive, allows you to designate the lengths to which medical technology may be used to revive you or keep you alive in the event of a medical emergency.

An estate planning attorney can help you determine the best way to accomplish your chosen goals and assist you in developing a comprehensive estate plan.

This article 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.