by Kiran Manning
Talking about the future - especially the extremely far-off future - can be a terrifying notion when left unplanned. This can be all the more alarming if you have particular assets and properties you need to have arranged should you find yourself incapacitated or in the event of your death. Unfortunately, these are things you have to consider given the potential effects your unarranged assets could have on the people and things you would leave. If you've yet to plan for this aspect of your life, then here's Estate Planning 101 and a crash course on what to consider before passing on to your next life journey.
However, do remember that not all "plans" and things to consider work for each particular circumstance, as these can differ from one person to the next. This is another important note to consider, as it's important to make sure you also try to consult a professional on the matter, such as a lawyer from this site, to help determine the full-extent of the planning you should do.
If you do decide to plan for an estate, you have to make sure you get to evaluate the kind of situation you have so that you’re able to form the right kind of plan depending on the kind of things you want to do. This means there are particular things you have to consider specifically for your needs:
● Are your accounts properly registered? There has to be consistency between the right persons attached to the right accounts. If you do have a living trust, try to assess as to whether or not these accounts are attached to the trust in question.
● Are your beneficiaries designated? Try to make sure the beneficiaries on your estate are still the correct beneficiaries, and update your information if they aren't. Make sure they're consistent with the kind of the estate plan you need.
● Are you going for a living will or a health care directive? Try to assess if you have wishes specifically regarding your procedures, especially if you have desires when life prolonging procedures are involved. An estate can be able to convey the wishes you have in terms of specific decisions like this.
● Are you going to assign a durable power of attorney? If you have finances or health insurance coverage and other assets to maneuver, is someone designated to make these health care and financial decisions in your name? This is important as you may be incapacitated, so a Durable Power of Attorney is a relevant piece of documentation that can allow you to name such an individual.
○ The person to choose depends on your preference, although relatives aren't always a good choice of a durable power of attorney.
● Are you going to set a last will and testament? This is something that is commonly featured in media and stories, but this is something that is actually a good consideration. A last will can ensure that your assets are transferred in a way that you would want them to be.
○ If you don't possess a will when you pass away, property you own will be transferred to the ones you survive based on how the law in your particular area determines fit. Chances are, your children and spouse will be splitting your assets. Should you be single, your blood relatives will be the ones to get your assets even if you would prefer a friend have them.
○ Another option is to pass property on to heirs through a TOD deed. A Transfer on Death deed, allows a real estate holder to designate a beneficiary to become the deed holder of the property upon death of the current owner. This form can make the process of transference of real estate very simple as probate is not required.
● Are you going to create a trust? This is important if you want to avoid probate, manage estate taxes, protect various assets, or leave assets when you are incapacitated. This can help in terms of paying bills, as well as money management.
○ Unlike wills, probate is avoided if you have a living trust. Probate is the process the court uses to test the validity of a will. Having a living trust and a will at the same time can be efficient parts of your estate plan, depending on your needs.
According to Consumer Reports, while there are many things to consider in terms of planning an estate, it's important to decide about these things early on. However, aside from these specific considerations, do try to make sure that there are other documentations prepared. Consult an attorney or a legal professional regarding the specifics that you should consider, especially when it comes to your specific circumstance.
● For instance, try to organize your records and paperwork as soon as possible. Try to keep everything in a safe deposit box, and if someone is not the co-owner for the box, the executor of your will must file a petition to the court first in order to be able to open the case.
In this Estate Planning 101 article, you may have learned just what to consider before passing on to your next life journey. Preparing for such an eventuality isn't an immediate sign that you're in grave danger, or something "bad" will happen to you. However, just like preparing for anything in the future can greatly help ease hassles and problems all over the board, the same thing can be said when you plan your estate early on. This is especially true if your own properties or assets can directly affect a lot of things around you after your passing.
Disclaimer: Please remember that this article shouldn't be treated as any form of legal advice. It's advised you speak with a lawyer or a legal counsel in order to learn about the specifics of estate planning and how it can be applied to your situation.
Kiren is a estate law writer who enjoys writing about subject in relation to real estate and law. He has written for a few blogs in the past, and enjoys sharing his knowledge with those who enjoy reading. In his spare time he enjoys spending quality time with those he loves.