A lot of people hear the words “estate planning” and think either 1. they’re not rich and therefore don’t have an “estate” they need to protect or 2. estate planning is too complicated and can be put off until later…often much later.
Both of these assumptions are untrue. Estate planning is necessary for everyone with any assets they want to leave to any person, persons or agency. Estate planning can also work to provide you with a steady income, financial security, long-term care and much more. And, best of all, the right attorney makes estate planning easy. In as little as one appointment, a knowledgeable attorney on the McLin Burnsed Estate Planning team can help you figure out what you need and put everything in motion so you won’t need to worry about the future, no matter what happens.
What Are Some of the Elements of Estate Planning?
Here’s a checklist of things you may consider when you engage in secure estate planning.
1. A Will – Simply put, a will names the person, persons or entities that will inherit your assets, including your home, property, savings, stocks, bonds, etc. It will also allow you to name a guardian for your minor children when applicable. You can also make sure your pets go to the person you elect. It’s the foundation of any good estate plan.
2. A Trust – A trust is a legal instrument in which your assets are held and then transferred by a representative that you choose to your beneficiaries at the time of your death. A trust helps your heirs avoid time- and money-consuming probate court.
3. Financial Power of Attorney – Also called a durable power of attorney, this document names someone you trust to have the power to manage your assets and finances should you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
4. Healthcare Directive – This is an important instrument for almost all people to have, because it outlines your medical decisions in case you’re ever unable to manage them yourself. It names someone you trust to ensure your healthcare decisions are honored and performed as you wish.
5. Beneficiary Forms – By naming specific people, organizations or charities on your asset accounts like bank accounts, retirement plans, etc., you can be assured that your heirs will inherit these funds directly on your death and avoid probate court.
6. Guardianship Designations – If you have minor children, you’ll want to make sure someone responsible will care for them and manage any inheritance they may receive upon your death. Failing to legally designate a person or couple could leave your minor children in the hands of the court, which could place them with a family member you didn’t choose or worse, order your children to be treated as wards of the state.
7. Cover Final Arrangements – Estate planning can include your final choices regarding burial or cremation, organ donation, funeral and wake decisions, and allocate whatever amount you choose for your ultimate send-off.
8. Secure Your Business – Sole business owners should have a legally binding succession plan in place to prevent major problems, and joint owners should have a concrete buyout agreement drafted to avoid legal conflicts.
9. Get Life Insurance – People with young children, a significant mortgage or considerable debt may wish to consider getting a life insurance policy that will help pay off debt and estate taxes so their heirs will have less to worry about.
10. Relax – There are other elements covered in estate planning, too, such as understanding estate taxes, creating a charitable giving plan, setting up an income stream for you to enjoy in retirement and much more. Whatever your goals and intentions, solid estate planning allows you to relax knowing everything will be taken care of exactly as you wish.
The Bottom Line
There is more to estate planning than deciding how to divvy up your assets when you die. It's also about making certain your family members and other beneficiaries are provided for and have access to your assets upon your temporary or permanent incapacity.
A will is a great place to start, but it's only the beginning.
Now is the time to begin preparing for the future, and no one provides Estate Planning services like the professionals at McLin Burnsed. For more information, visit mclinburnsed.com or call our office in The Villages at 352-259-5011.