Estate planning may seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never thought of drafting a will before. It’s never too late to create a legal document that has the power to shape the future of your family should you suddenly pass away.
If you’re a young professional or someone nearing retirement age, estate planning will help you put your assets in the right places at the time when you’re not capable of handling them anymore.
Remember These As You Plan
There are a few steps to make before deciding who gets your property and assets upon your death. The following should help you make a good start on estate planning.
Understand What A Will Is For
You can write down all of your assets with your lawyer. These could be anything that you own without a beneficiary yet. Focus on how you want to distribute your assets to your surviving heirs.
A will includes all of your wishes, including which of your family or trusted persons will inherit specific assets. This helps avoid any further conflict among the people who matter to you by deciding asset distribution in advance.
Employing Asset Protection
Set up a Cook Island trust to help protect your wealth and assets from creditors and lawsuits. Working with a trustee will guarantee the safety of your assets for the benefit of your heirs.
A trust will help manage the distribution of property even while you’re still living. If you have children who are minors or mentally incapacitated to manage financial affairs, a trust will help keep it safe on their behalf.
Clarify Who Will Get The Home
There are a few ways to award the ownership of your home. Depending on what you want, you need to include any of the following in your will:
- Transfer On Death –designates the transfer of assets to beneficiaries at the time of your death without the need for probate.
- Joint Right Of Survivorship –it awards multiple beneficiaries equal rights to your property. It also includes survivorship rights if a co-tenant, which also has equal rights to the home, passes away. It applies to real estate and your bank accounts (savings and checking), brokerage, and mutual funds.
Plan For The Management Of Taxes
Federal and state taxes can take a chunk away from your beneficiaries. As far as legalities go, they’re mandatory, especially if your property is subject to these taxes.
Your executor, or probate lawyer, must handle your assets’ liquidation to fulfill tax obligations, in cash and on time, which is nine months after your demise. They can work with a tax professional to determine the best strategies that are fit for your situation.
Organize And Work On Document Access
To ease the stress of your death, you must also keep documents and files so that your executor and heirs can access them. Apart from the fact that it shows transparency, this will save them administration, legal, and accounting charges.
Here are some of the files and documents that you must share with your beneficiaries:
- Power Of Attorney
- Loans, unpaid taxes, mortgages
- Deeds or titles to property or properties
- Bank accounts, credit cards, and login details to online accounts
- Investment portfolios
- Insurance policies (life, health, home, and car insurance)
- Funeral plans – arrangements, burial or cremation
- Personal property like art pieces, furniture, heirlooms
Estate planning is a step-by-step process that you can do on your own or with a probate lawyer that you trust. It’s important to secure your assets in advance to ensure that your family gets what you worked hard for throughout the years. You may have incurred debts that may endanger your assets. The proper asset protection, such as a trust, will help keep your assets. Hence, during this period, it’s advisable to work with a professional.