6 Key Steps to Estate Planning

Estate Planning


Estate planning is one of the most important and proactive measures you can take in regards to arranging the management/disposition of your property after you die. In order to ensure that all your final wishes are honored, it is advised to create a comprehensive plan ahead of time.


Step 1: Understanding Estate Planning

The first step to this process is understanding what your “estate” is comprised of. It includes all of the property owned by you at the time of your death, consisting of your real estate, cash and securities, trusts, annuities, business interests, and other assets. Estate planning will also save money. If a person passes away without a will, or intestate as the situation is called, the process typically requires additional proceedings such as determination of heirship and appointment of an Administrator. For individuals that die intestate, the person’s probate property is distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. This means that there is the possibility that the property may not be distributed as the person would have wanted.


Step 2: Seek a Legal Attorney

It is monumental that you devise a comprehensive estate plan that does not overlook specific details. This is a very important legal process that requires the professional skills and advice from an estate-planning attorney. You want to find an attorney that will meet your personal objectives by understanding your needs, ideas, and goals effectively.


Step 3: Wills and Trusts

Starting out with the basics, you want to take care of your wills and trusts: legal documents that give instructions about the distribution of your estate upon your death. Wills and trusts will also name the specific individuals such as your Executor or Trustee, who are to carry out the distribution of your property.


Step 4: Durable Power of Attorney

It’s extremely important to execute a durable power of attorney. This particular person you assign will act on your behalf in the event of your death or incapability to perform decision-making tasks. If you do not have a power of attorney, a court may have to appoint a guardian for your property, if you become incompetent, or unable to make decisions due to medical problems.


Step 5: Review Your Estate Plan

Although you may have documented your estate plan with an attorney, it is just as important to review it regularly due to life changing situations or goals. There are many instances that can affect your previous draft such as death of a spouse or child, change in marital status, moving to another state, retirement, changes in federal or state laws, starting or terminating a business, etc. You do not want to let these life changes pass by and forget about how and who will be affected by your present will.


Step 6: Leave Your Legacy


Thoughtfully planning your estate ahead of time will reduce stress for your loved ones so that they can feel secure in the matter. During a difficult time of mourning, you do not want to leave them with the heavy decisions regarding who gets what. Not only is this an opportunity to comprehensively layout your last wishes, but it is often the last words people will hear from you. It is not just about reducing financial stress, but it can also help reduce your loved one’s emotional stress. It is an opportunity to guide your loved ones in a peaceful transition through the entire process.


Don’t wait to start your estate planning. Life can throw you unexpected curve balls and it is better to have a plan set in stone, rather than face leaving the legal decisions for your loved ones to resolve. If you are interested in starting your estate planning, Schulz Stephenson Law will assist you in any legal aspects and guide you through the process.


To learn more about estate planning or to schedule a meeting with one of our estate planning attorneys, visit www.carteretlaw.com today.

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August 03, 2016 in Schulz Stephenson Law Blog