10 Minute Guide to Estate Planning - Getting Started

Apparently, Americans are in no big hurry to plan for their final days. According to a 2011 EZLaw Wills & Estate Planning survey, 60% of those surveyed believed that all adults should have estate plans, yet only 44% said they have one. The primary reason for not having an estate plan in place is the belief that it's too complicated to deal with estate planning documents. This brief guide will get you started with estate planning with ease so that your family and loved ones are protected in case of unfortunate events.

10 Minute Guide to Estate Planning - Getting Started

Get Life Insurance

Life insurance should be included in your estate plan. Why? Because it can provide tax-free security for your loved ones to ensure that they won't suffer financially. Life insurance will provide you with the peace of mind knowing that those you care about can maintain their lifestyles and live comfortably for years to come. Plus, life insurance can be used as liquidity to pay off estate taxes which is important, especially if you own real estate or a business.

Draw up a Will

A will is a document that states what you want to happen to your assets in the event of your passing. Once you die, your will is used in court in a process called probate to ensure that your wishes are handled fairly. Three key things to consider when setting up a will are: 1) Determining who will be the executor of the will 2) Who will get your assets and 3) Who will take custody of your minor children or dependents if you have them.

Designate a Power of Attorney

If you are not married, you will need a power of attorney. A power of attorney is only valid while you're alive. It's basically a document that gives someone you designate the power to handle your financial and legal affairs should you become incapacitated. In other words, you are designating a specific person to represent you if you are somehow not able to represent yourself.

Have a Living Will

10 Minute Guide to Estate Planning - Getting Started

A living will provides healthcare directions which are to be followed you should become unable to tell family and/or medical personnel yourself. You can use a living will to spell out whether or not you want to be left on life support for a long period of time. It also can be used to inform others about what methods you wish to be implemented to save your life.

Create a Master Document for Your Loved Ones

An important aspect of estate planning involves sitting down and listing all of your assets and debts. Next to these items, state everything you want done to close them out and to put the assets in the hands of the people who you wish to have them. Sign this master document and make copies. Leave one copy with your attorney, put the master copy in a safe place and give copies to key loved ones. This document can be a tremendous help to your grieving family who may end up disagreeing about who gets what, when and how.

Setting up your estate plan can be personal and emotional. That's why it's important to work with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. Focus on choosing a well-experience attorney whom you feel comfortable talking to.  Remember that coming up with excuses for putting off your estate planning could leave your family's financial security to the unforgiving mercy of inflexible laws. Spare your loved ones both expense and anguish by following these straightforward tips.

2 comments:

  1. I think we delay estate planning because we don't want to face our own immortality. It's important to talk to an estate lawyer to make sure you have everything in order in case something happens.

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  2. Whether we want to or not it's important to plan for the day we are no longer here. Having a will is the beginning of that plan.

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