Tip 1. Your estate is what you leave behind after you die.
Everyone has an estate. Whether you are wealthy, old, young, a parent, single, or anything else, you have, or more specifically will have, an estate. Your estate is simply the collection of possessions, money, and other property you leave behind after you die, or after you become incapacitated.
Estate planning, therefore, is the choices and steps you take in preparation for leaving behind an estate. The estate planning process takes into consideration a large number of issues, such as inheritances, taxes, trusts, guardianships, and more.
Tip 2. Your estate plan will address your possible incapacitation.
Though everyone dies, not everyone will lose the ability to make choices. Should you, or a close relative or loved one, ever become incapacitated, you will need an incapacity plan in place. Incapacity plans address issues such as what kind of medical treatments you want to receive, and who you want to manage your property when you can no longer do so. Incapacity planning is one part of the broader topics of estate planning.
Tip 3. You will create multiple estate planning tools.
There is no single tool, legal document, or device you can create that will address all of your estate planning needs. A last will and testament, for example, is an essential legal document that all adults should have, but it will do nothing for you if you’re concerned about estate taxes or want to create an incapacity plan.
Creating a comprehensive estate plan involves looking at what you want and matching your desires with the specific tools that will allow you to accomplish your goals.
Tip 4. Estate planning doesn’t end after you’ve completed your plan.
Creating an estate plan takes time and effort. You’ll have to think about a lot of issues, make decisions, and then create the tools you need. Though the initial process can be time-intensive, the estate planning process doesn’t end once you’ve completed it. Your life will change. Your choices will change. The law will change. As these changes take place, you’ll need to be ready to review and update your estate plan to ensure its effectiveness.
Tip 5. You need a lawyer to give you advice.
Estate plans, and the laws surrounding them, are complicated. While there is no law that requires you to hire an estate planning attorney if you want to create a plan, choosing to go it alone is a big mistake. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in the field will not only ensure that your plan is created properly, but it will, in the long run, save you a lot of time and money.