An estate plan can provide peace of mind by ensuring that your money and property are protected, should you become ill. Also, in the event of your death your loved ones will receive money and property according to your wishes. A clear estate plan will also make it less likely for friction to evolve among your family members.
What key elements of an estate plan should you consider?
- Do you have a last will and testament or a trust? If you do not have these important documents, state law will determine who will inherit your property—and it may not occur in the way you would have chosen. In addition, someone appointed by the Court, instead of a trusted person of your choosing, will be in charge of caring for any children or pets and winding up your affairs.
- Have your considered various options for avoiding probate so that your loved ones inheritances remains private, and not accessible to their creditors or to the proliferation of scammers who search the probate records?
- Have your considered transferring your home or other real estate into a trust? This will allow your heirs to avoid probate and will make your property immediately available to them, at the time of your death, without the necessity of participating in the protracted and expensive probate process.
- Have you named the appropriate beneficiaries to you retirement accounts and life insurance policies? Have your made “payable on death” designations for your bank accounts?
- Are the proper powers of attorney and health care directives in place? A financial power of attorney designates an individual to make financial and property decisions, should you become unable to handle your own affairs. An Advanced Health Care Directive designates a person you trust to make medical decisions for you when you are otherwise unable to speak for yourself.
- Do you have insurance? If you become incapacitated (unable to manage your own affairs) or die, it is important for you to consider the appropriateness of various life, health disability and long term care insurance options.
Taking the time to put your estate plan in place will give you peace of mind and will provide protection for yourself and your loved ones.