Estate planning is the act of arranging and anticipating, through the early life of an individual, for the smooth administration and management of his/her estate, if the said individual becomes incapacitated and upon death. Establishing and executing an estate plan will allow you to manage and even use your wealth or property for the benefit of your family, after your death. An estate plan provides you with security and protection as well as financial assistance when you need it most. The beneficiaries will receive the proper amount of funds based on the stated beneficiaries list that was provided at the time of your designation. If you have no children or spouse, then only your parents will be entitled to the assets.
Prior to initiating any estate planning arrangement, it is advisable to appoint a qualified attorney to handle the legal proceedings and protect your assets and interests. A qualified estate planning attorney can draft and file your final documents, organize and assign the various assets to the proper beneficiaries, provide you with protection in the form of insurance and tax deferral, and deal with the probate court. It is important that you select a qualified attorney because they are knowledgeable about intestate law and can provide sound legal counsel if you are in a situation where you must pass away unexpectedly. He or she may also be able to offer you valuable information regarding estate planning options and possible strategies. If you are contemplating some form of asset protection, such as a living trust, or revocable living trust, or any other strategy, you should seek the expertise of an attorney.
When you are in a place where you are aging or where you will soon be aging, one of the important decisions you must make is what type of protection you need from your estate. Do you wish to maintain some type of residual life insurance? Do you wish to provide your beneficiaries with a large sum of money in retirement plans such as 401(k) s or Roth IRAs? Perhaps you want to leave something behind for your spouse and children so that they can go on an individual path after you pass away. If you have life insurance policies, are they transferable?
Once you determine what sort of planning and protection you need in terms of your estate planning, then it is time to determine who will be in charge of executing your plan. Will you appoint a guardian ad executor? If so, how will that person to proceed? Will you hire a lawyer? What about hiring a financial planner or CPA to help you design your assets and accounts receivable?
Some people do not desire to wait until the last minute in terms of planning their estates. This is when they might consider consulting a financial professional. The advice of a financial professional can be invaluable in terms of estate planning, since they can assist you in making decisions that are within your legal guidelines and are beneficial to your beneficiaries. Some financial planners work exclusively with individuals and couples, while others work with groups of individuals or couples as well. The first thing to determine is whether you want to retain the services of a lawyer or planner in your probate process. While there is no “right” answer to this question, it is generally advised that anyone wishing to retain the services of a lawyer or planner should do so at the suggestion of a relative or friend who has had experience with probate and is familiar with the legal processes that must be followed.
Finally, be sure to have your estate planning attorney to make decisions for you and your loved ones regarding your finances. If you are not comfortable making those types of decisions, then it may not be in your best interest to retain an estate planning attorney. For example, if you are not quite sure how you will fund your education or how you will care for your children in the future, then it may not be in your best interest to wait until you have a problem before making any decisions regarding those things. By having your estate planning attorney to make decisions for you regarding those situations, you can rest assured that your final wishes will be met and your future will be smooth, just the way that you want it to be.