Estate planning is never an easy topic. It involves discussing death. But it’s a critical process if you are to leave your property to the rightful heirs. Although estate planning is a complicated process, you can take some steps to make the process easier. You should enlist the help of a lawyer or a financial advisor to guide you in the process. You should also take matters into your hand and plan your estate.
Do you want to understand how to do so, please read on!
1. Prepare A Will
Preparing a will is the first step in taking control of your estate planning. A will is critical as it indicates how you want your property to be distributed upon your death. Through the will, you appoint an executor. Although many people appoint one of their kids to be the executor, the professionals at The Atlanta Estate Law Center advise that doing so isn’t a prudent step. It often bleeds bad blood between siblings. Quarrels and disagreements often arise although the executor is only carrying out your wishes.
You should appoint an independent executor for your will. The executor clears all your debts and distributes your assets to the beneficiaries as you’ve instructed in your will. In case you die without a will, your state’s law of intestacy (dying with no will) will apply. In most cases though, if you don’t have a will, the property transfers to your spouse and kids.
2. Have A List Of Beneficiaries
The other critical step is to have a list of beneficiaries. As earlier stated, if you die intestate, your spouse and children inherit your property. At times, that might not be your wish for one reason or another. In case you have a joint property with your spouse, once you die, they will inherit the property. If you have intangible assets like a savings account or brokerage account, the beneficiary whom you have listed will receive the cash.
It’s critical to work with an attorney to check whom you have indicated as the beneficially. Both for your tangible and intangible assets. As is the norm with life, you grow and so do your priorities and targets. Similarly, you might have indicated a relative, such as a sister as a beneficially before your marriage and forgot all about it. But you have since gotten a family and it might be prudent to name your spouse or children as the beneficiaries.
It’s therefore critical to check whom you have indicated as beneficiaries both for your tangible and intangible assets.
3. Write Your Wishes In A Letter
Not everything you would like to tell your family will find its way into the will. You could write a letter to describe the type of burial you prefer. Some items you own don’t have great economic value but have immense sentimental value. You can indicate in the letter how much a certain item means to you and who you want to have it. Give the letter to a trusted friend, relative, or attorney. Some states don’t recognize these letters as legal documents. Your family though will most likely respect your wishes.
4. Prepare A Durable Power Of Attorney
Estate planning also involves taking care of yourself while you are still alive. At times you might fall critically ill that it becomes impossible to manage your finances. By creating a durable power of attorney, you appoint somebody to make financial decisions on your behalf. In the DPA, you appoint either a trusted friend or relative to manage your finances on your behalf.
Unlike the normal power of attorney, a DPA only takes effect only when it becomes impossible for you to make financial decisions. In case you become incapacitated and you don’t have a DPA, the judge will have to appoint a friend or a relative to manage your financial affairs.
Choosing a relative or a friend isn’t an easy decision. You don’t know how they will manage your cash. The solution is to appoint co-trustees. The co-trustees can be your relative and your attorney or financial adviser. Make sure the terms you draw up in your DPA are acceptable to the institutions holding your finances.
5. Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Adult Children
Another great option is to discuss your estate planning with your adult kids. You should think about both your tangible and intangible assets. Consider what you would want to happen to your assets. After coming up with the plan, discuss it with your family members.
If you intend to leave your house for example to your kids, enquire what they might want to do with it. They might want to retain it, rent it out or sell. This kind of conversation is not easy. That’s why you should invite a friend or relative whom you trust.
You might have acquired valuable assets including houses and other tangible and intangible assets. If you don’t take estate planning into your hands, the assets might end up in the hands of the people you didn’t intend. Estate planning is crucial as it will ensure the transfer of your property is smooth. Most importantly, it’s done according to your will.
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