Planning your estate is one of the most difficult parts of the wealth-building process. For one, it involves so much detail and knowledge. Perhaps most notably, planning for life after death is not something that most people enjoy facing.
You can more accurately take care of your descendants when you deal with these circumstances head-on. Use the successful estate planning principles tips below to handle the process effectively.
1. Get an Overall Assessment of How Much Your Estate is Worth
Knowing the value of your estate will help you start the process to the best of your ability. The more diverse and lucrative your assets, the more detailed you’ll need to be when organizing your estate.
Speak to a certified public accountant (CPA) or other qualified professional to know exactly where you stand. They can calculate estate value and other matters that’ll steer you in the right direction.
Knowing the value of your estate will dictate the type of will you create and other matters.
2. Name Your Beneficiaries and Consider Their Life Needs Now and for the Future
Think deep into the future when planning your estate. Factoring in every possible scenario will help you put these details in writing.
For instance, many people consider the financial implications of the estate, but you should also make contingencies for child custody, college education expenses, and whether you want to donate to charity.
The further ahead you can think, the more equipped you’ll be to make sound decisions.
3. Consider the Merit of Both a Will and a Trust
You’ve probably already thought to create a will, but setting up a trust can be just as essential. The key difference between these estate plans is that a will can be contested, but a revocable trust is set in stone.
Creating a trust helps you to avoid the probate process, which can become lengthy and cumbersome for your beneficiaries. A trust eliminates question and intent and gives you more autonomy over how you want your wealth and assets distributed.
While the execution of a will is a public record matter, your trust is handled privately and out of the prying eyes of the public. Further, trusts give you more customization and creative ways to administer your estate.
For instance, you can create clauses that only release money when a beneficiary hits benchmarks like graduating college, getting married, or purchasing their first house.
You can include real estate that will remain part of the trust so that it can’t be lost in divorces, lawsuits, bankruptcies, and any other legal matters. Creating a trust helps you to protect your wealth for generations so that beneficiaries can’t make mistakes that compromise it.
The best estate plans involve some combination of both a will and a trust. Work with a professional to find out which combination is ideal for your circumstances.
4. Figure Out Who You Want to Name as the Executor
Naming an executor is a critical piece of the puzzle when planning your estate. This is the person responsible for administering your will and trust, handling your funeral arrangements, and other matters.
The executor may also have the power to sell portions of your estate or borrow money from it. Choose a relative or professional that is trustworthy and professional so that it’s correctly addressed.
Make them aware of these responsibilities well before your death to make sure they’re up for the task and so that they won’t be caught off guard. Consider their emotional resolve and choose a person who can hold it together during this tumultuous time.
5. Find an Estate Lawyer to Help You Put Together Your Estate
Hiring an estate lawyer is perhaps the most important piece of this puzzle. They’ll not only offer guidance and advice, but will also put pen to paper and create your wills, trusts, and other decisions.
The estate lawyer can also act as the executor of the will if you feel more comfortable having them conduct business for you after your passing.
Choosing an estate lawyer early in the process is helpful since the details of your wealth can change several times throughout your life. You can call up your lawyer to make changes to your will or otherwise modify your estate plan.
The lawyer will also act in your interests if your will is contested following your death. Get referrals so you can hire the most credible, trained, and experienced professional to address your final wishes.
6. Research the Law and How it Applies to Your Estate Needs
Always address your estate plan with the law in mind. Understand estate laws in your state will help you make contingencies and avoid costly mistakes.
Every state and Washington DC has specific laws regarding the probate process. You will eliminate confusion by knowing these laws in advance.
7. Lower Your Tax Burden Whenever Possible
Reducing tax is a principle of accumulating wealth. This principle applies even after your passing. If your estate is heavily taxed, your beneficiaries will be responsible for footing the bill.
This can create financial setbacks or cut into the value of the assets you intended to pass along. Your estate planning attorney can set your trusts up in a way that immediately reduces any potential tax obligations.
Use These Tips for Successful Estate Planning
The points above are essential for a successful estate planning process. Handle this process with some tact and experience so that your final wishes are handled to your liking.
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