Estate planning may not be one of the most exciting things to think about, but it is one of the most important decisions you can ever make for your future, estate, and loved ones. A valid estate plan ensures that your wishes are followed when you are no longer around.
To help make the process of developing your estate plan easier, here are three important questions you need to ask yourself.
What should my will reflect?
This is, without a doubt, the first question you need to ask yourself when planning your estate. Any asset on your name that has not been designated for transfer to a beneficiary due to joint ownership, a trust, or beneficiary designations, will have to pass through probate. At this point, a will is used to determine how such assets are distributed. In the absence of a will, therefore, there will be no guarantee that your wishes will be honored.
Have I identified the beneficiaries of my transferable assets?
When you identify and document a beneficiary for your asset in the will, it automatically transfers upon your death to the named person as long as you have duly completed the beneficiary designation form. Most account types allow this, including IRAs, investment accounts, as well as life insurance policies, and retirement accounts.
Do I need to establish a living trust?
A trust is a legal document similar to a will. However, it allows you to quickly transfer your estate upon death to your beneficiaries without having to go through costly court proceedings or probate delays. It also allows you to direct your chosen trustee how you wish to have your estate managed should you get ill or become incapacitated.
Estate planning can be a daunting exercise. However, the truth is, there is no guarantee in life when it comes to how long you will be around. Experienced legal guidance can help you and your family handle your estate plan and probate needs.