While you may associate estate planning with the wealthy or the elderly, almost everyone benefits from a comprehensive estate plan. Your estate consists of all of your property, including personal items, bank accounts, real estate, and other assets. When you die, an estate plan dictates how your property will be distributed. A well-developed estate plan can also minimize your loved one’s tax burden and the need for probate court proceedings.
While most people associate estate planning with wills and trusts, it can also address:
If you do not create an estate plan, your estate will be distributed according to your state’s intestate succession laws.
Your estate plan will vary, depending on your life stage, your financial assets, family situation, and long-term goals. For example:
As your situation changes, you may have to modify your estate plan. For example, you might need to amend your will if you move to a state that has different legal requirements (otherwise, it might be considered invalid). And, you should update your estate plan if you have another child, divorce, or marry.
Without the help of an estate planning lawyer, it is easy to make mistakes. For example, you might:
Your estate planning lawyer can help you draft a will, trust, power of attorney, or other documents that help protect your assets and distribute them according to your wishes. While all estate plans are different here are some general elements of a successful plan:
And, your lawyer can help you organize your estate—making it easier for your loved ones to identify your holdings and distribute them according to your wishes.
Estate planning is a highly technical practice that requires an understanding of legal, financial, and accounting principles. A poorly drafted estate plan can result in confusion, a lengthy probate process, unnecessary tax payments, and even litigation. It’s always in your best interest to consult with a skilled estate planning attorney.
Last Modified: 08-31-2017 12:24 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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