Estate planning is something almost everyone can benefit from. If you own anything at all, you need an estate plan. It’s an aspect of financial planning that many people wrongly sweep under the rug.
A comprehensive estate plan will take a lot of burden off of loved ones. Here’s how to get started.
Who Needs Estate Planning?
As we mentioned above – anyone who owns assets and wants anything transferred to loved ones after they pass away needs an estate plan.
There's no minimum dollar amount in assets you need to start estate planning. It's important for everyone, regardless of the size of their house or value of their assets. An asset could be anything from your favorite clothing items to a life insurance policy or stock investments.
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
An estate plan should be created as part of any financial plan. It helps to bear a lot of the burden of allocating debts and assets. A comprehensive estate plan includes invaluable documents that will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
An estate plan can eliminate the need for any of your assets to go through a lengthy court process called probate. This will allow your loved ones to get exactly what you intend as soon as possible.
Since an estate plan can allow your assets to skip the courts, your loved one can potentially save thousands of dollars in court fees and taxes.
Proper estate planning can take the brunt of estate and inheritance taxes. Sometimes it can even eliminate them.
Takes Care of Your Health and Finances
Included in your estate plan is at least one power of attorney. Power of attorney gives authorization to a person to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. We recommend having all the necessary power of attorney documents so everything from medical treatment to finances is handled on your behalf.
A guardianship designation is also included in a complete estate plan. It assigns custody of any minor children to the person of your choice in the event you pass away or become incapacitated. If you have kids under 18, you need to have this so custody isn’t decided by a court.
How to Start Estate Planning
The two best things you can do to start estate planning are to begin logging assets and debts, then hire a professional.
It’s not necessary to begin taking inventory, but it will help you start to get an idea of who you want to leave certain things to, which can be a tough decision.
Do I Need an Estate Planning Lawyer?
You’re not legally required to hire an attorney to formulate an estate plan, but we highly recommend it.
Estate planning is a very involved process that requires every ‘T’ to be crossed and every ‘I’ dotted. Because of this, we don’t recommend you tackle this task alone.
There is a lot that goes into an estate plan. If you don’t have everything in order, it may cause delays in your asset distribution. If even one of your estate planning documents is filled out incorrectly or missing, months can be added to the process. What’s more, some property may go to the wrong person.
When someone passes without declaring a beneficiary for something, a court will decide who gets it. If this happens, your family and friends are likely to face costly court battles over possessions that are rightfully theirs.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?
The cost of hiring an estate planning attorney is different for each circumstance. Price varies based on how much work you have already done and how each attorney bills you.
Here, at atCAUSE Law, we charge a flat rate so you know what to expect and there are no surprises at the end.