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.
Control of those assets is given to whom 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 the process of creating a will and ancillaries or a trust in order to ensure proper control of your assets during incapacity and a smooth transition upon your death. 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 put off, but attorneys heavily advise against this. Instead, it is always best to 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 with or without a will, assets owned in your name without beneficiary designation must go through probate court, a lengthy and arduous process that your loved ones shouldn’t have to endure when they’re mourning. For those without a will, the estate must be divided according to the intestacy laws of their state. For those with a will, the probate judge must prove the will and then oversee.
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
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 an attorney on your team will make the whole process easier and stress-free.
The documents you need will depend on your concerns and the assets you own. However, there are usually 10 essential documents that are necessary to get your affairs in order:
- Last will and testament
- Revocable living trust
- Advance healthcare directive
- Beneficiary designations
- Insurance policies
- Titles and property deeds
- Proof of identity documents
- Financial power of attorney
- Digital logins
- Funeral instructions
The paper requirements may seem lengthy, 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 review your plan. It is recommended to revisit your estate plan every three to five years.
Updating your plan ensures your plan properly reflects your concerns.
Plan your estate the right way with Wiles Law
Wiles Law is a full-service estate planning law firm dedicated to helping people preserve their legacy through wealth protection strategies. We can help with trusts, wills, probate, and tax, and business planning.
Our estate planning services can help you safeguard your hard-earned assets and ensure they are given where you want to. Secure your goals now and partner with an experienced estate planning firm like Wiles Law. Our trained attorneys can assist in creating a solid estate plan that suits your needs.
We are always ready to accommodate you. Contact us today.