What Will I Need to Prepare an Estate Plan?

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Providing Proper Documentation

A will is the most basic tool in estate planning; it can be used for both smaller and larger estates. A will designates who gets which asset from an estate when you die. It can also be useful for younger couples to designate guardians if they have children. Despite your age or size of estate, planning for the future should be a top priority.  

If your estate is larger than the state minimum or if you are concerned about your family struggling through a probate process, you may wish to consider a willing trust. A living trust allows your money to be placed in a fund after death. Any property added into the trust will not have to pass through probate before being distributed to any heirs.

Another important document that you should have prepared is a healthcare directive. This document lets family know if you want to be resuscitated in an emergency and whether you wish to be sustained on life support if you are rendered into a coma.

Listing Beneficiaries

Naming beneficiaries for all of your accounts will allow you to work around probate. All that the transfer of funds will need to be completed is a copy of your notarized death certificate. There may be some taxes due, but probate will be mostly unnecessary.

Naming beneficiaries also allows for privacy which means that the estate will be safe from creditors and collectors. SInce the accounts don’t go through the probate process, they are not a matter of public record and accounts with beneficiaries are not considered part of an estate.

Handling the process will be easier and faster if you provide a prepared list of beneficiaries and account information ready to be put into your documents. This makes the executor’s job easier when they have to contact the institutions and heirs. Any accounts unclaimed will close and become the state’s property.

Do You Have Business or Investment Interests?

You should include a business succession plan to ensure that your business will continue to operate after the owner or manager is gone. You can find the proper forms on most state websites in their business sections. Many states only request you draft a basic letter or list successor’s names and then filing the proper forms.

Having a record of all account information including passwords and usernames, program files and financial information are useful in case you have an online business. If your business used a particular bank account or money service, then you should make this information known to your successors as well.

Making Your Estate Plan

Preparing your estate plan can be a complicated process, even with prepared documents. In order to ensure your assets are received by the correct beneficiaries and are not impacted by excessive fees, you should consider hiring an estate planning attorney such as the estate planning attorney. It is incredibly difficult to create a plan on your own and you should be as thorough as possible. Not to mention an attorney can help you revise it as life changes.

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