4 Vital Estate Planning Tips You Need to Follow

By on August 9, 2017
4 Vital Estate Planning Tips You Need to Follow

By Suzanne Winch—

Dealing with your mortality and eventual demise is never pleasant, yet if you don’t take any estate planning measures, you can leave behind one crazy and painful mess for loved ones to deal with. Just look at Prince as a prime example–the rock star who died unexpectedly from an accidental painkiller overdose. He left behind an estate worth more than $300 million with no will. With no spouse or children, his sister and five half-siblings are fighting over the massive estate, which is surely something that Prince wouldn’t have wanted. By the time everything is said and done, taxes and lawyer fees will cut the estate’s cash value in half. 

To ensure your estate isn’t annihilated by taxes, paraded through the courts, and your intentions and wishes are honored, it is in your best interest to contact an estate planning attorney who can help you establish a last will and testament that is iron clad. Here are four tips to follow.

  1. Take an Inventory of Your Assets

In order to determine your net worth you must first take an inventory of all items of value that compose your estate. Vehicles, properties, art, furniture, and even that baseball card worth $12K your grandfather gave you are all things that need to be documented. If you have a family business you will been an estate planning lawyer who can deal with special provisions. The attorney will also help you deal with any insurance policies that trickle outside of probate. 

  1. Choose Your Beneficiaries 

You will need to make a list of your beneficiaries and determine how you want your assets distributed to them. This is not as easy as it sounds; you also need to write in to your will how they will benefit. In other words, you may want to give your nephew a large sum of money, but since he is in college and known to get easily distracted, you may want to create a trust for him. If you have children you may also want a trust set up for them when they reach adulthood; generally age 18 or 21 is the norm. Though based on a child’s maturity level (or lack of it), parents will often set the trust up for age 25 or 30. 

  1. Choose Your Executor 

You will need to select someone to manage your plan of action. You can choose a family member to do it. Though some opt for the estate planning attorney to play the part if there is a chance that appointing a family member could cause drama. Another option would be to work with a corporate trustee. If you run the risk of being incapacitated before your passing, you will also want to choose someone to have power of attorney, and more often than not the chosen person is also the executor. 

  1. Find a Skilled Estate Planning Attorney 

Once you have an idea of how to plan your estate, you will need to find a lawyer who specializes in wills and estate planning. You can interview friends and family who have used this type of lawyer for a referral base. Business associations may also have some ideal estate planning attorneys used by people close to them. Do a Google search; see who comes up in your area, check their website, read reviews, and see how they communicate with people through social media or blogging. Once you narrow a few down be sure to contact the state’s bar association to ensure the lawyer is in good standing and is licensed to practice his claimed specialty. Finally, you need to get a good vibe when you meet the lawyer. This is someone who will advise you on trustees, and who will be fighting for you when your voice can no longer be heard. 

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4 Vital Estate Planning Tips You Need to Follow