You decided that it is time to get the wheels in motion on estate planning. Good for you. Preparation is crucial. You have many questions and understand that that this endeavor entails a great amount of research.
There are many important aspects to consider when creating an estate plan. For example, do you want a will or a trust? Who will get your assets? Giving careful thought to an estate plan is a necessity.
Will or trust?; when to update
Here are some of the critical issues to consider, review and decide upon when creating an estate plan:
- Determine the value of your estate: You want to make an estimate as accurate as possible and tally a list of your real estate investments, retirement assets, bank accounts, securities, insurance policies and personal property.
- Will you pursue a will or a trust? There are benefits in both. With a trust, you can manage your estate while still alive, ensure privacy and avoid probate. A will provides you and your loved ones with peace of mind and allows you to distribute your assets as you wish and select a guardian for your minor children.
- Who will receive your assets?: You must name beneficiaries. Perhaps they are family members and friends. Or you may even choose to donate your estate to certain charities.
- Who will be your executor of your will or the trustee of your trust? The person in these roles must be trusted, reliable, financially savvy, patient and not afraid to make difficult decisions.
- Name a power of attorney: You need to select someone who can manage your estate if you suffer serious medical ailments or are unable to manage the estate and its assets. You must legally give a trusted person such as a family member or friend the power of attorney to make these decisions.
- An estate plan is not a “one-and-done” matter: Remember that you need to update your estate plan whenever any major changes surface in your life. The list may include marriage, divorce, remarriage, birth of children and grandchildren, the purchase of a home or start of a business.
Careful consideration is essential when creating an estate plan. Many details must be addressed. Take time in understanding your goals and make those important decisions so no one else must do so.