When Is It the Time for Estate Planning

An estate refers to everything someone owns, whether a house, car, real estate, checking and saving accounts, life insurance, investments and personal possessions. No matter how large or modest the estate, all owners have one thing in common – assets cannot be taken with them when they pass away. 

At this time, control of those properties is given to the identified people and organizations the deceased person has listed as an executor in their will. The executor then sets about handling the bequeathing of the estate. When you draw up a will you need to provide clear instructions about the bequeathing of your estate to ensure that your wishes are carried out. This is where estate planning comes in.


What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is making a plan in advance in naming the individuals or groups as the recipients of the things you own after you pass. Planning your estate might be something you want to push later, but attorneys heavily advise against this. Instead, it would help if you plan your estate at the earliest convenience. Deciding to do estate planning later in life can make things difficult for you and your family. When you pass away without a will, your properties must go through probate court, a lengthy and arduous process that your loved ones shouldn’t have to endure when they’re mourning. 


However, aside from death, other life events warrant the creation (or updating) of an estate plan, and these are:


  • Home and Additional Property Ownership: Your estate grows every time you buy a house or any property. So make sure to include any new addition of your assets in your estate plan.
  • Savings Account: An estate plan ensures that the funds in your savings accounts are quickly passed to anyone of your choosing. 
  • Marriage or Remarriage: Planning can determine which assets should be combined with your spouse’s and which remain under your name. 
  • Inheritance of money or other assets: You should create or update your estate plan when you receive an inheritance to reflect any additional funds or assets.
  • Any birth in the family: One of the most common estate planning triggers is the birth of a child within the family. Planning your estate ensures the financial security of every child in case anything were to happen. 
  • Travel: It is recommended by estate lawyers to update your plan every time you plan to travel for long periods.
  • Divorce: It’s crucial to update and alter any estate plans you made with your former spouse. 


What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan

Estate planning services help guarantee that you make no mistakes when planning your will. Minor details, like a misspelled word or missed signature, can significantly alter your plan. Consulting an estate planning lawyer can prevent errors, ensuring that your assets are given to the rightful recipient. 

In addition, estate planning requires many documents. It’s advisable to acquire the services of an attorney who is knowledgeable in the documentation requirements, financial instruments and protocols needed to implement your plan. Having them on your team will make the whole process easier and stress-free.

The documents you’ll need to secure depending on the assets you own. However, there are usually 10 essential documents that are necessary to get your affairs in order: 


  1. Last will and testament
  2. Revocable living trust 
  3. Advance healthcare directive
  4. Beneficiary designations
  5. Insurance policies
  6. Titles and property deeds
  7. Proof of identity documents
  8. Financial power of attorney
  9. Digital logins
  10. Funeral instructions


The paper requirements might seem a lot, but your legal team will assist you in securing each copy. Once you have your estate planning documents, they need to be stored in a safe place. Tell your loved ones and your attorney where you keep them, so they can easily access the papers once they are needed. 


When To Update Your Estate Plan

You should update your estate plan for significant life events like the ones listed above. Still, years can go by with no milestones, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do any updates. It is recommended to visit your estate plan every three to five years. Doing this ensures that your program adjusts to whatever changes occur in your life, allowing you to be more prepared for what the future has in store. 


Plan your estate the right way with Wiles McMichael

Wiles McMichael is a full-service estate planning law firm dedicated to helping people preserve their legacy through our wealth protection strategies. We can help with trusts, wills, probate and tax and business planning. Our estate planning services can safeguard your hard-earned assets and ensure they are given where you want to. So secure your goals now and partner with an experienced estate planning firm like Wiles McMichael. Our trained attorneys can assist in creating a solid estate plan that suits your needs.  

We have offices in Charleston, SC and Macon, GA, and our team is always ready to accommodate you. Contact us today by calling the following numbers:


Charleston, SC Office: (843) 718-0232

Macon, GA Office: (478) 239-0010