A Beginner's Guide To Estate Planning

Posted on: 13 February 2024

Estate planning may not be a subject that you want to think about, but it is a necessary step in taking care of your loved ones. It involves making important decisions about the distribution of your assets and property after you pass away. While it can be a daunting task, having a solid estate plan can give you peace of mind and minimize stress for your family during a difficult time. In this beginner's guide to estate planning, we will walk you through the basics and help you get started.

Define Your Goals

Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve with your estate plan. Do you want to avoid probate court? Do you want to provide for your children's education? Are there certain charities or organizations that you want to include in your plan? Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can begin to create a plan that addresses them.

Know Your Assets

Make a list of all of your assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, and personal property. Be sure to include liabilities as well, such as mortgages and credit card debt. Knowing what you have and what you owe will help you determine what kind of estate plan you need.

Choose Your Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries refer to the individuals or organizations that will inherit your assets upon your demise. Be sure to choose backup beneficiaries in case your first choice is unable to receive your assets. Make sure you speak to them about their willingness to serve in such a capacity as well.

Decide on a Will or a Trust

A will outlines your wishes regarding your assets and property, while a trust allows you to manage your assets while you are still alive and can provide specific instructions for the distribution of assets after you pass away. A trust can be more expensive to set up but may be an option to consider, depending on your goals, assets, and other factors. An attorney experienced in estate planning can guide you on this topic.

Review and Update Regularly

Your estate plan is not set in stone. It is important to review and update it regularly, especially when there are changes in your life, such as the birth of a child, a divorce, or a major change in your assets. Make sure that your beneficiaries and executors are up to date with your wishes.

Contact a law firm like Chapman Valdez & Lansing Attorneys and Counselors at Law to learn more.