One of the best ways to ensure that your assets are transferred properly can be through estate planning this National Older Americans Month. Your plan does not have to be complicated to work well for you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, most of us believe that it is only those with the highest net worth or complicated family scenarios who need comprehensive estate planning. We are here to tell you this National Older Americans Month that this is not the case.
Bear in mind that estate planning is about much more than your assets. It is about creating a plan that can protect you and your loved ones both now and in the future. Who will make your decisions for you if you cannot? Who knows your wishes? It is also important to think about these planning considerations before something occurs.
How should you plan forward? Your estate planning should include, but not be limited to, a will, trust, and powers of attorney, but remember, there are additional documents. Let us share a bit more during this National Older Americans Month right here.
A Last Will and Testament
If you do not have any other documents, consider creating a will. This can be the foundation of your estate plan and may outline how you want to distribute your assets and to whom. Unfortunately, if you die without one, a court may decide how to divide your assets and who could inherit them, according to the laws of your state. Further, a will can also let you name a personal representative of your estate or a guardian for children under 18, and allow you to plan for any other special circumstances.
There are many types of trust agreements. Different trust agreements serve different purposes for you and your family. One such trust we create is a revocable, or “living trust,” which can guide your family if you become incapacitated. Trust agreements provide a myriad of benefits that you may need based on your own circumstances. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is that, as opposed to a last will and testament, your assets held in trust may not have to go through the probate court process for validation and distribution of your assets, which may cause delays and extra expenses for your heirs.
Powers of Attorney
This estate planning tool can give the people you choose the legal authority to act on your behalf in certain matters, such as financial decisions. These decisions can include paying a mortgage, depositing checks, or applying for public benefits. It is critical that your power of attorney be durable so that it is able to still operate should you become incapacitated. As a further consideration, if you do not name someone, your family may need to go to court in order to obtain legal authority to act for you in a crisis.
Planning Forward for Your Legacy
Comprehensive estate planning includes more than just specific legal documents. You may want to consider how you can plan for additional lifetime issues. Comprehensive estate planning can answer questions such as who will: run your business in the event of your incapacity, handle your retirement accounts, or plan to handle tax issues? These are just the start of the questions you can discuss with us in your meeting about the estate planning you need.
Do you need help with your estate planning this National Older Americans Month? Not sure what to do or where to start? Do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would be glad to work with you to find the best options for you and your estate to protect not just you, but those you love as well.