You work hard to build an estate during a lifetime. Ensure that your assets pass into the right hands. Whether you want to transfer ownership to loved ones, friends, charities, or other organizations, you should have a plan. Without one, a probate court oversees the distribution of your property and interests, which can burden loved ones with more time, increased costs, and greater uncertainty in settling your estate.
Planning does not need to be a complex process. In fact, estate planning can be rewarding if you understand the basics and have the support of capable and experienced professionals. This post is part of a series for National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Follow our blog to read the entire series as we share basic information to help you get started with estate planning.
This blog post presents an introduction and overview of basic concepts. It is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal, financial, or tax advice. Information is accurate as of the time of writing the post and is subject to change without notice. We recommend that you consult a professional estate planner, financial advisor, tax advisor, or estate planning attorney to discuss your specific situation.
First, you should understand what goes into the estate planning process. Estate planning includes identifying sources of value in your estate, gathering documentation, selecting a plan design, choosing how to transfer assets, designating beneficiaries, and then enacting the plan. It may seem like a lot, but staying organized will help you keep a handle from start to finish. We recommend that you consult an estate planning professional when you first get started. We also recommend keeping notes to help you gather your thoughts along the way.
Next, consider setting goals as you embark on your estate planning process. Identify if you want to achieve anything in particular with your estate, if you have heirs capable of managing inheritance, and if you need special plans for the transfer or protection of any particular assets. Take a moment to write down or type out your objectives. Once you know your goals, you can share them with a professional to help them better understand your situation and aspirations.
If nothing comes to mind, perhaps consider some common concerns:
Do you have concerns about your heirs’ ability to manage inheritance?
Do any family members have special needs?
Do you wish to bequest specific assets to specific individuals or organizations?
Would you like to bequeath assets to charitable organizations?
Do you want to protect any assets from specific relatives, relations, or creditors?
Would you like to schedule distributions to beneficiaries of various ages or relations?
Do you have a family business that requires succession planning?
This blog post is part of a series provided for educational purposes only. In the next post of our series, we take a deeper dive into evaluating your estate and gathering important documents for your estate plan. We will cover the tools used to carry out an estate, creating an inventory of your assets, demonstrating ownership, and the legal agreements used to bind an estate. Remember, our blog posts provide an introduction and overview of basic concepts. Posts are not intended to be legal, financial, or tax advice. If you have questions, please consult a qualified professional. Information is accurate as of the time of writing the post and is subject to change without notice.
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