Take a deep breath. We're diving deep into the Abyss of Estate Planning. Complex? Yes. Deep? Definitely. But daunting? Not anymore.
Deciphering estate planning can feel like trying to solve a Rubik's cube in the dark. Every twist and turn, every nuance matters. Skip a step, and all could go awry. But remember, it's not just about protecting assets. It's about laying firm foundations and leaving a legacy.
What's more, estate planning isn’t a one-size-fits-all game. It's like designing a bespoke suit—it must fit perfectly, tailored to your unique conditions and factors.
Don't let the challenge turn you away. Grab the bull by the horns. Master the art. Because this isn't about wealth alone—it's about your legacy. To help you get started, I've got 6 Steps to help you create or update your estate plan.
6 Steps to Create Your Estate Plan
If you watch commercials or see the ads online, you'll likely think that a mail-merging website is all that you need to create an estate plan. The problems arise when you either have questions about the next step or you choose the wrong button in the form and end up with documents that aren't really what you intended. And if you don't pay careful attention, you may end up signing those documents and you've left a legally binding estate that you never intended. There are six steps that my clients commonly go through as we create their estate plan.
1. Catalog Your Assets
The first vital step in estate planning is to clearly and accurately catalog all your assets. This would include everything from real estate and investments to personal belongings and digital assets. This comprehensive list forms the bedrock upon which the structure of your estate planning will be built.
2. Determine Future Family Needs
Another integral aspect of successful estate planning involves visualizing the potential needs of your family members in your absence. Are there minor children who would require guardianship? Family members with special needs? Your estate plan can be specifically tailored to cater to these unique requirements, ensuring the continued care and support of these loved ones.
3. Assign Your Beneficiaries
Estate planning offers you complete autonomy over the distribution of your assets. It is essential to precisely draft a will that reflects your wishes, thereby ensuring the welfare of your loved ones, supporting your favorite charities, and avoiding potential legal disputes in the future.
4. Plan the Distribution
Once the beneficiaries are decided, the method of distribution should be determined. Trusts could prove to be a powerful tool for this purpose, offering control over the disbursement of your assets and even providing potential tax benefits.
5. Secure and Share Your Documents
The efficacy of a meticulously planned estate cannot be fully realized if the relevant documents are not easily accessible when needed. We can work together to guide you on how to securely store these documents and who should be informed or provided with copies to ensure smooth execution when required.
6. Update Your Plan Regularly
Just as life changes, so should your estate plan. Changes in familial status including births, deaths, marriages, and divorces could greatly affect your initial estate plan. Regular assessments and updates with your attorney can ensure that your plan remains relevant, comprehensive, and effective.
While these steps don't seem complicated, it's important to work with a professional to make sure you've done each one correctly. It is far too common for me to meet with clients who created an estate plan before and didn't fully understand what they were signing or, even worse, understood and still signed documents that didn't actually reflect their wishes.
Do You Need an Estate Plan?
If you need an estate plan or maybe just need to update one you had prepared before, let's schedule a Legal Strategy Session online or by calling my Edina, Minnesota office at (612) 294-6982 or my New York City office at (646) 847-3560. My office will be happy to find a convenient time for us to have a phone call to review the best options and next steps for you to work with an estate planning attorney to get your plan prepared and implemented.