An estate plan is generally a guide for your future. Although some may believe that estate planning is for wealthier individuals with high-risk assets, estate planning is for anyone who wants to make sure their assets will be taken care of in the event of their passing. Our team at Albin Oldner Law, PLLC is here to highlight some basics of estate planning, including some frequently asked questions we receive from our clients.
1. Take Inventory
Part of estate planning involves taking inventory of your belongings and determining what you want to do with them after you pass away. When taking inventory, be sure to include all of your tangible and intangible assets. Some tangible assets include:
- Collectible Art
- Real estate
- Personal possessions
Some intangible assets you should include in your estate plan include:
- Stocks, mutual funds, bonds
- Life insurance policies
- 401(k) plans
After taking inventory of these assets, you should estimate their value—you can do this through bank statements and appraisals. Once you have completed taking inventory, you can then begin making estate plans
2. Take Care of Your Children
If you still have kids who are minors, you must set up a plan for after you’re gone. This can be a difficult and emotional task, but it is crucial for ensuring that your final wishes are carried out. Double-check on your life insurance policy, and name a guardian for your child in the event of your passing. Never assume a judge will decide custody by your wishes if you do not have an estate plan.
3. Establish Directives
Establishing legal directives will include a trust, a financial power of attorney, a limited power of attorney, and a medical directive. We will not go over trusts as we did so in our blog, which you can find here.
A durable financial power of attorney would handle your finances if you are unable to do so, while a medical directive will handle your medical decisions if you were ever to become incapacitated. If you feel uncomfy with the idea of someone else making these decisions for you, you can establish a limited power of attorney. This statement limits the powers of your named representative.
4. Doube-Check Your Beneficiaries
Go over your retirement and life insurance plan one more time. Ensuring that your assets are divided amongst your loved ones in the event of your passing is vital. Make sure you name all beneficiaries and even backup beneficiaries in the event something happens to your primary beneficiaries too.
5. Seek Professional Guidance
While it is possible to create an estate plan without the help of a lawyer, it is often best to seek professional legal guidance. A lawyer can ensure that your estate plan is valid and legally binding and can help you navigate the often complex laws surrounding estate planning.
In addition, a lawyer can provide peace of mind, knowing that your estate plan is in good hands. Ultimately, while you may be able to create an estate plan on your own, seeking professional legal guidance can assure you that your estate plan will be carried out precisely as you wish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need an estate plan?
An estate plan is beneficial for many reasons, as this document can asses who will make medical and financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. An estate plan also outlines your wishes for your end-of-life care, including a pathway to determine the division of your assets.
Is my Will valid in another state?
Because state laws are so different, you should update your will if you ever move states, as some laws may not apply while others will. If you’re concerned about the validity of your Will, be sure to speak with a legal professional.
What’s so bad about probate?
Without a Will, your estate will go through probate, which is a legal process for distributing your assets. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can also be stressful for your loved ones. In addition, if you die without a Will, the court will decide how to divide your estate, which may not be in accordance with your wishes. Therefore, it is important to create a Will as part of your estate plan.
Seek Legal Guidance Today
Estate planning is a necessary process that everyone should go through at some point in their lives. It can be challenging to know where to start, but luckily the Albin Oldner Law, PLLC law firm in Frisco, Texas, can help. Our estate planning lawyers can assist with various tasks, including drafting wills, setting up trusts, and choosing beneficiaries. We can also help to resolve any disagreements that may arise between family members.
Estate planning can be a complex process, but with the help of a qualified lawyer, it doesn't have to be. To schedule a consultation, fill out this form or give us a call at (214) 225-4325.