Trust us, we understand why it’s so easy to procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. Thinking about what happens after you’re gone is uncomfortable. And scary. And overwhelming. Furthermore, it feels so far away—surely nothing is going to happen to you tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that. You have plenty of time to plan your estate. You’ll do it next month, over the summer, after your next birthday…
…and the next thing you know, you’ll be sitting at the cusp of another New Year, thinking, this is the year I will finally plan my estate…
And the cycle begins all over again.
Having an estate plan in place can bring a huge amount of peace of mind, knowing that if tragedy strikes, your family will be spared a costly, time-consuming, and very public probate process. You’ll be able to rest assured, confident in the fact that your assets will be distributed to family members, loved ones, and organizations exactly as you wish. Your legacy will live on. Even better, estate planning reaps the reward of knowing your assets are protected—now, and in the future. But most people know they need an estate plan…it’s getting them into the attorney’s office that takes a little more nudging.
Here are 5 tips to help prepare you for your first meeting with an estate planning attorney:
1. Make a list of your property, assets and valuables. This is a simple step to help keep the estate planning process organized and streamlined. Include your main residence, any vacation homes you own, your retirement account, bank accounts, annuities, insurance policies, college plans, collectibles, vehicles, and any other meaningful items you want to pass down in a specific way.
2. Meet with an estate planning attorney. Take your list to an estate planning attorney who can prepare, at the minimum, a will and trust to ensure your property and assets are passed down as you wish. This process may seem straightforward—something you can do on your own—but we assure you, it is incredibly nuanced and complicated. A qualified estate planning attorney can help create a bulletproof will and trust.
3. Ask your attorney if you need a living will. A living will, or advanced healthcare directive, tells doctors what you would like to happen if you become incapacitated and cannot make your own healthcare decisions.
4. Choose an executor, guardians for your dependents, a trustee, and a healthcare proxy. An executor is responsible for carrying out your will. This person should be well-schooled in financial matters—if they’re not, consider hiring a professional organization to act as the co-executor.
Choose the person or people who will gain custody of your children, or who will take care of adult dependents. Keep in mind that this person may also be in charge of any financial inheritance that your dependents receive, if they are minors.
Assign a trustee to control your trust and make distributions appropriately—oftentimes, the trustee is a hired professional.
Finally, choose a healthcare proxy—someone who you trust to make medical decisions for you, should you become incapacitated.
5. Consider an annual maintenance plan. Annual will and trust maintenance programs ensure the success of your estate plan by keeping it current. Life is constantly in flux—a maintenance plan will ensure that your estate plan changes as your circumstances do. Ask about our annual estate planning maintenance plan and see how we can keep your documents current and your assets protected, on an ongoing basis.
Estate planning isn’t as overwhelming as people make it out to be. Following these 5 simple tips can keep you organized and streamlined throughout the estate planning process. Being prepared for the worst case scenario will help you fully savor every moment of the best case scenario.
CONTACT THE ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS AT DELIBERATO LAW CENTER
The Deliberato Law Center wants to make estate planning as accessible and as easy to palate as possible. We offer a free estate planning consultation to new clients interested in learning more about what the process entails. If you are interested in speaking with a highly experienced legal professional from our estate planning law office, please complete the brief form below and we’ll get in touch to answer your questions and get you started towards protecting your assets and securing your legacy.