Estate Planning Timeline: Getting Ready for Your End of Life Planning.
Estate planning is something that many people procrastinate on. However, if you’ve recently experienced the loss of a loved one, it’s especially important to consider what will happen to their assets after they’re gone. Working with an estate planning attorney can help to simplify the process and ensure that your wishes are carried out properly.
Here are factors to consider when working on an estate planning timeline.
Work with an Estate Planning Attorney
When you consider getting your estate planning documents in order, it is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who doubles up as a family law lawyer. For many people and families, the estate planning timeline is a complicated process that can be difficult to complete without professional assistance. Although there is no strict estate planning timeline that people must follow, many factors can influence how long it takes to get all necessary documents completed and filed with the appropriate agencies.
The first step people take in the estate planning timeline is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. This meeting will allow you to explain your family’s history and current situation and your goals for how your assets should be distributed. The lawyer will then use this information to guide the overall process of putting together all necessary documents. In addition to the first meeting, the estate planning timeline will include meetings with accountants and financial planners. These professionals can work with your family to put together a long-term plan for saving money and making smart investments. They may also be able to help you develop a comprehensive retirement plan that makes it easy for you to manage all of your assets after you have passed away.
Once the estate planning timeline is underway, it will include your attorney drafting letters of instruction for each area of your finances. For example, if you have several bank or investment accounts, creating a letter of instruction will provide detailed information about where these accounts should go when you die.
Determine What Kind of Estate Plan You Need
Everyone knows the importance of putting together an estate plan but knowing what that looks like is another story. Your estate plan will depend on many factors, including your age and net worth. The more you have, the more complicated and involved your plan. A simple will commissioned by a will lawyer may suffice if you’re young and broke, but most people need more than that as they get older and accumulate wealth.
The best way to handle the kind of estate plan you need is to go through a checklist. As you go through the list, ask yourself which questions you can answer with a ‘yes.’ The more yes answers you have, the more involved your estate plan will be. You have to take into account that no two people are the same. Your estate plan should be unique, so don’t feel pressured to do anything that doesn’t feel right for you. Use the list as a guideline, not an answer. You’ll want to have a good estate plan if you are wealthy or married because, most likely, you’ll be around for many years with your wealth intact. Before becoming of ‘full retirement age, all of your Social Security benefits may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty if you die early. If you are married, your spouse will have to go through the complex process of withdrawing any retirement savings in your name. This is just one example of why you might need more than a few pieces of paper for your estate plan.
Outline an Easily Understood Overview of Your Finances
There are many reasons to lay out an easily understood plan for your estate. Most of it comes down to knowing what is going on and letting your loved ones know there is a solid paper trail should any mistakes or issues arise. This type of planning can help answer questions about where assets are held, how much debt you have at death, and what you would like done with your assets. This is important for making sure all of the ‘i’s’ are dotted, and ‘t’s’ are crossed. Otherwise, these questions may not be answered under your wishes or in a timely fashion, leading to complicated legal problems later on.
First, organize all of your assets. Take stock of what you have and how it is held if something happens to you. This could be in various forms, including bank accounts, investment portfolios, insurance policies, real estate holdings, or business ownership interests. It is important to be proactive because it can determine who gets what and where your money goes. It also makes it a lot easier for those left behind to know exactly how everything works and who has the authority to make decisions about your local funeral home.
Next, list all of your debt. This helps so that there is less chance for miscommunication and make sure your heirs do not have more debt to contend with at a time that is already very challenging. This could be a variety of things, including cars, credit cards, and student loans, among other things. Once the assets and liabilities have been accounted for, it will be easier to apply them to your estate plan documents.
Designate a Trustee for Your Estate
When it comes to the legal process of estate planning, there are several important steps you can take so that your affairs are left in good order for your loved ones. One of these is selecting a designated trustee from among those listed as potential beneficiaries during life and upon death. This designation can be made as part of your living will or other documents and should also clearly state who the alternative successor trustee would be if the first choice is unable to serve. Upon death, an individual’s family members typically step in as trustees or executors to ensure that the individual’s final wishes are carried out. In some cases, however, a trusted friend or adviser may be more appropriate for this role.
When making these decisions, it’s helpful to think about what type of relationship you have with those involved and whether they would be able to carry out your wishes as you intend them to be carried out. When first planning an estate, it is important to select someone who has both the time and inclination that will allow them to fulfill this position. A trustee is responsible for looking after the estate’s assets and should do so in accordance with what they believe the decedent would want. Trustees can provide some level of assistance to beneficiaries who may be unsure about how to handle their inheritance and deal with critical issues around inheritance taxes. However, they are not obligated to provide any support. This means that beneficiaries should have all relevant legal documents in place before they begin receiving assets from an estate so that they know what their obligations are and don’t become overwhelmed.
Choose an Executor
It’s important to know that it is legally binding when you create an estate plan. You can change it, but any changes will not go into effect until your death. This means that even if you create an estate plan and then decide to amend it several years later, your original plan is still legally binding until your death. This means that the executor you choose in the original document will be responsible for carrying out what you want to be done including the funeral pre planning service. As well as including other important details, such as which cemetery you would want to be buried in. When choosing an executor, it’s important to choose someone that you trust to carry out your wishes. You can also choose multiple people as alternate executors. If the first person you chose declines responsibility for the task or is confined in an assisted living and memory care facility as a result of memory problems and the need for senior living support, then one of your alternates can accept instead.
You should consider contacting an estate attorney to guide you through this delicate process. If the executor you choose will be very resistant to your other wishes, you may either change your executor or rethink the entire way in which you want your estate distributed when you die. It is also important to remember that an executor can decline responsibility for the task, even if they chose you as their alternate. If this happens, and none of your alternates accept responsibility for carrying out your wishes, then a court will appoint someone to do so. This person may not share the same vision as you did when it comes to how your estate should be distributed.
Name a Guardian for Your Children
Sometimes, thinking about your mortality can be an unpleasant thought to entertain. However, taking the time to understand what will happen to your minor children upon your death should help ease the pain for you and relieve some of the stress on them in the long term after you have passed away. Naming a guardian for your children is important when working on an estate planning timeline.
In an ideal situation, you would have a will that names a trusted family member or friend as the guardian for your children. This person will be there to care for them and make sure their physical, emotional, and financial needs are met. Their job is to always put your kids’ interests first – even before their own – and their role requires a great deal of trust and commitment. There are some instances when this doesn’t happen.
If you don’t have someone you trust to care for your children, or if the person you want to name as their guardian passes away before they do, then naming a legal guardian becomes incredibly important. It needs to be done not just for your children’s sake, but also because of financial considerations. Without the proper legal documents in place, your children will lose out on the assets you leave behind for them, and their lives can become incredibly stressful as they struggle to find a way forward without you.
Trust and Advance Directive for Healthcare
When planning your estate, the instructions usually involve wills and trusts. However, there is another available option if you want to plan ahead for your future healthcare needs. The ‘advancing medical directive’ is a legal document that allows you to put certain instructions about your medical care in writing before you reach an incapacitated condition or state of permanent unconsciousness.
The next step in having an advancing medical directive is to identify someone you trust to carry out your directions when you are unable. That person may be called your ‘proxy’ or ‘agent.’ Your proxy can also be called your healthcare power of attorney. You can indicate whether your proxy is free to contact Medicare insurance consultants for your sake and what types of health care you do and do not want. So why is this important?
Because there are at least three reasons that having an advanced medical directive makes good sense. First, it ensures that your wishes will be followed even when you cannot speak for yourself. Second, it reduces the chance of disagreements between family members about what someone would have wanted. Third, in some places, this document is required to receive medical treatment and in others, like in California, it can allow you to refuse medical treatment even if doing so would shorten your life. It’s important to know that your advanced medical directive should be continually reviewed. You need to ensure that the person you have chosen as a proxy is willing and able to carry out your wishes, should the time come when you can no longer speak for yourself.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your family and legacy is to have an estate plan. This is a great idea whether you are 25 or 65 years old, but it becomes even more important as we age, as our health starts deteriorating. At some point in all of our lives, we’re going to need someone else to make decisions on our behalf, especially health care decisions. When that time comes, having a plan in place will save your family hours of stress and anxiety, not to mention thousands of dollars in legal fees (and potential lawsuits).