Estate Planning Dos and Don’ts

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A thorough estate plan can help your loved ones manage your assets during your lifetime and after your death. A good outline can prevent many problems that can plague many others’ estates, such as delays in the distribution of funds and unnecessary tax payments.

It is important to have a lawyer help you create your plan and update it periodically.

Don’t Get Too Specific

The best way to ensure your family’s wishes are fulfilled is to write them. This can help minimize disagreements and confusion in the future.

This means creating a last will, living will, durable power of attorney, and other essential documents. It also means appointing people who can carry out your wishes and help you avoid complications in the event of incapacity or death.

It is important to review your documents regularly and update them as necessary. Major life changes such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and shifts in financial status are all reasons to revisit your plan. Review beneficiary designations and ensuring they are current is also a good idea. These changes can prevent assets from going to people you didn’t intend and save your family time and money.

Don’t Leave Out Your Children

When planning your estate, including everyone you want to receive something from your assets is important. This can have children, spouses, friends, pets, and charities close to your heart.

It would help if you also chose a legal guardian for any children you have who will care for them in the event of your death or incapacity. This guardian can be a family member or a trusted friend.

Creating powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions is also a good idea. A specialized firm like this experienced Vero Beach law firm can draft these.

The last thing you want to do is leave your loved ones to struggle when it comes time to sort out your estate. A little bit of planning now can save them a lot of grief and hassle in the future.

Don’t Leave Out Your Pets

As a pet owner, it’s normal to think of your furry or feathered friend as part of the family. However, legally speaking, they are property. If you don’t specifically leave something in your will for your pets, they could wind up in shelters.

One option is to include a letter of instruction in your will that names a caregiver and stipulates funds for food, veterinary care and transportation costs. Create a trust of your choice with money designated for pet care and to name a trustee to manage the funds.

Building trust is one of the most important things you can do to provide for your pets’ future. It allows you to appoint a caregiver, a trustee to manage the finances and a protector to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. The process can be complex and should be handled by a qualified attorney.

Don’t Leave Out Your Financial Information

We’ve all heard horror stories about families feuding over their inheritances after a death. A bit of estate planning can help your clients avoid this and ensure their beneficiaries have a roadmap for their future financial affairs.

The key is ensuring the entire picture is accounted for, including any trusts or other accounts and any real estate in joint ownership. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your list of assets and accounts includes account numbers, company names, contact information and a brief description of the assets.

Finally, remember to revisit your plan regularly. Your circumstances may change, so your attorney and financial advisor must work together to update your documents. For example, a marriage, divorce or a new child could prompt a revision to your paper. A death or incapacitation can also start a review. You should never take a ” one-and-done approach to your estate planning.