Yes, You Do Need to Have an Estate Plan

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The Smart Guide to Complete Estate Planning

Estate planning is one of the effective ways to control your assets even after your death. It gives you the freedom to distribute your wealth according to your wishes. Moreover, you can handle legal complications more efficiently with a good estate plan. If done properly, you can minimize the damage caused by the probate process, delays, heavy taxes, and other expenses. Estate planning ensures the safe transfer of assets to the heirs.

Read on to learn how you can establish an estate plan.

Enlist All Your Assets

The first and foremost step in planning your estate starts with enlisting all your assets, both tangible and intangible. They may include:

  • Cash and cash equivalents 
  • High-value assets like rare art pieces and jewelry
  • Residential and commercial properties
  • Vehicles
  • Business interests
  • Online accounts like bank, social media, and email accounts
  • Retirement plans like pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s
  • Insurance policies 
  • Health savings 
  • Treasury bonds 
  • Debts and liabilities 

Now is a good time to document all of your assets for the execution of your estate plan without facing any trouble. At this time, don’t forget to mention jointly owned accounts and inactive accounts in this list. 

Choose A Will Or A Trust 

A will outlines all of your assets and ensures the distribution of them according to your wishes after your death. It is a crucial document that covers all the important aspects of your estate. The trust is based on a more detailed document that ensures a probate-free transfer of assets to heirs. 

Regardless of what you choose, an estate plan is a good way to protect your underage children from mishaps after your death. You can leave a good legacy for your loved ones with a well-planned estate plan. Consider online estate planning for a simple and seamless transfer of your assets to beneficiaries after you pass away. In this case, they don’t have to suffer from legal complications and probate by the court. 

Finalize Beneficiary 

Beneficiaries are people who will receive your assets after your demise as per your wish. You can nominate family members, friends, and acquaintances as beneficiaries of your estate plan. However, you cannot mention underage children as your beneficiaries. Make sure to add multiple beneficiaries or contingent beneficiaries in your estate plan. You may transfer a considerable portion of your assets to a charity if that’s what you want to do. Update your list of beneficiaries off and on to ensure it meets the changing circumstances of your life. 

Ask executors

An executor is an individual who makes sure your estate plan will be carried out the way you want it to do. This person executes your will or trust. It is a lengthy and complicated task and requires time and effort. The best you can do is to ask the potential executor before naming them in the legal document. Make sure the executor you choose is competent to perform the job and able to follow the instructions. It is the way to ensure the speedy and seamless transfer of assets to heirs under jurisdiction. Include a name of a contingent executor in your estate plan to make it more comprehensive and leave no doubt for uncertainty. 

Nominate Guardians 

An estate plan also includes information about the legal guardian of your underage children who cannot become beneficiaries as per law. The designated guardian is responsible for taking care of your children and their financial assets till they reach the legal age of 18 or above. Make sure to nominate a responsible person for guardianship of your minor children who is capable of handling this role. You can appoint a couple you think is already doing a fine job as parents. On the contrary, if you fail to designate guardians in your estate plan, your children will rely on the court to decide their future. The court will grant guardianship of children either to the relatives or under government custody.  

Review applicable taxes

Estate taxes are a significant component of successful estate planning. Understand applicable taxes on your estate to get the most out of the tax regime.

You have to pay Federal estate taxes only if you own a large estate worth $12.06 million or above for 2022. However, you have to worry about other estate taxes, including inheritance and capital gains. The estate tax levied on U.S. citizens varies depending on the state in which they live. Moreover, states charge tax at a much lower threshold than the federal estate tax. The tax slabs and exemptions also vary across different states. What can you do to protect your assets from higher tax rates? An estate planning attorney is the best option who can provide legal assistance for tax minimization. 

Protect Your Estate Planning Documents

How can you keep your estate planning documents safe and secure? There is nothing wrong in sharing the details of your estate plan with an executor and beneficiaries. You can provide them copies of your will or other legal documents that you may deem suitable. 

If you have any doubts, you can store the document in a safe or a locker and nominate a legal agency to disclose the details after your death. In this regard, you can consult a legal expert for advice and make them in charge of an estate for a transition phase. It is essential to entrust your will to a person or people to make sure an executor will carry out your will in the way you want. 

Final Thoughts 

An estate plan can lessen the pain of your loved ones as they won’t have to deal with legal challenges. Make sure to provide as much information as you can to avoid making your estate plan a big scavenger hunt for your friends and family after you pass away. Legal advice can always settle your estate more efficiently and swiftly regardless of its size and number of beneficiaries. In this case, you also don’t have to figure out estate taxes and other regulations. The legal agency will take care of all essential things on your behalf. 

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