You don’t need to be wealthy to undertake the process of estate planning, which involves choosing who will acquire your assets and carry out your wishes following your death or incapacitation.
One primary goal of an estate plan is to make sure that your beneficiaries acquire your assets in a way that keeps estate tax, income tax, gift tax, inheritance tax, and other types of taxes to a minimum. Creating an estate plan can help you establish a flexible program that you may freely modify as your personal and financial circumstances vary over time.
The critical question to ask yourself about writing an estate plan is how you wish your assets to be allocated in the event of your death or in case you can no longer function on your own.
Through the course of your lifetime, you’re likely to accrue some degree of monetary wealth, along with physical assets and family treasures. What will happen to all of this property if you should die or become mentally incapacitated? This is where the estate planning process comes into play.
An estate plan permits you to officially spell out all of your desires and how you wish them to be satisfied. A well-thought-out and drafted estate plan can aid in preventing disputes that might arise among your beneficiaries and keep the details of your family’s financial dealings confidential.
However, before you begin to draw up your estate plan, it’s essential to understand certain key points as you work to address your specific needs through the plan.
Work with a Qualified Attorney and Tax Consultant
In formulating your estate plan, getting professional guidance from an estate attorney and perhaps a tax consultant is imperative. The attorney’s job will be to counsel you in the best ways to write your estate planning texts, which might include a will and a durable power of attorney, meaning that the plan stays in force should you become incapable of handling your affairs.
The plan might also contain a health care proxy, a document that assigns an agent who can lawfully make healthcare decisions for you when you’re unable to decide by yourself. The tax consultant will be able to help you with all tax matters relevant to your situation.
A Professional Will Help Make Decisions
As the plan is being drafted, you will be the one to make all of the decisions, but the attorney and tax consultant can help you define and comprehend the potential outcomes of various options.
The professionals will also assist you in clearly conveying your desires, avoiding textual errors, reducing your tax burden, and altering the details of your estate plan over time as your life situation changes.
Employing Professionals Is Worth the Cost
Hiring an estate attorney and a qualified tax consultant can be well worth the expense, as you will enjoy significant savings through careful, informed planning. When writing the plan with the help of the attorney and tax expert, the following are some of the basic actions you can take to create a document that will meet all of your needs.
Make a Detailed Inventory of Your Possessions and Debts
Construct an all-inclusive catalog of your assets, debts, bank account numbers, and contact information, along with the names and contact data for your key consultants.
Store the inventory in a safe, centralized area of your home or business along with original copies of your important personal papers, and give a copy to the person who will execute your will. This list could be paper text or an electronic file maintained in a secure place.
Develop an Emergency Plan for Handling Your Assets
A well-written estate plan allows you to control the fate of your property and assets if you or your partner were to pass away suddenly. It also makes a written document available so that if you should become incapacitated, your family members can conduct your day-to-day affairs without having to resort to the court system.
The plan should contain a line of attack for providing income if you become disabled and for paying any costs for medical care that you may require in the future.
Consider the Welfare of Your Children and Dependents
A significant objective of much estate planning is to safeguard and care for an individual’s loved ones and provide for their future needs. Thus, it’s vital to include stipulations about your children, such as designating a custodian for your minor children and safeguarding any children you may have from prior marriages.
Your plan should also cover the guardianship and financial security of all offspring or relatives with special needs to avoid putting their eligibility for governmental benefits at risk.
Safeguard Your Tangible and Intangible Assets
A major aspect of all estate planning is protecting people’s assets for their heirs and their charitable legacy by keeping expenses to a minimum and paying the smallest amount of estate taxes possible while at the same time meeting their objectives.
Thus, if needed, your estate plan should contain detailed methods for passing on or liquidating personal assets such as a family business, landed property, rental property, or stock in a company with only a few stockholders.
Many individuals include trusts or life insurance in their plans to safeguard their assets while at the same time making sure that they will reach their future goals.
Provide Legal Documentation That States Your Wishes
To have your assets allocated in a way that meets your financial and individual goals, your legal documents must specify how you should reach those goals in the event of your death or incapacitation.
These texts should assign beneficiaries for any life insurance, retirement plans, and related assets to satisfy your wishes. The texts also need to ensure that titles related to physical assets, such as cars and valuables, are appropriately assigned.
For this purpose, your attorney can help you generate an updated will that disposes of your assets, a living will that spells out your end-of-life desires, and powers of attorney related to your healthcare and financial affairs.
Assign a Trustworthy and Knowledgeable Fiduciary
To implement your estate plan, you need to assign an individual to take action on your behalf if you should become incapacitated.
Known as a fiduciary, this person is responsible for serving as (1) executor of your will, (2) trustee for your tangible and intangible assets, (3) legal custodian of your dependents, and (4) financial power of attorney if you become unable to function on your own.
You should be confident that your fiduciary is conscious of and agrees to his or her duties and knows the location of all estate planning documents. A fiduciary may be a family member, a close friend, or an appointed professional such as an attorney or a banker.
Whether you are just beginning your life’s journey or have already built up several assets, an estate plan will help you reduce the effects of unforeseen incidents by safeguarding and administering your financial affairs, offering you a sense of security.
Seek Help from Wealth Alliance Advisory Group
Wealth Alliance Advisory Group offers comprehensive estate planning services. We can help you navigate questions concerning establishing a trust and a will, naming an executor of your estate, and more.
Regardless of your net worth, it’s critical to understand your choices when developing an estate strategy. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (316) 277-1674. We’re looking forward to helping you achieve your goals.