tl;dr; It’s not pleasant to think about, but having your estate prepared now will ensure your family is well taken care of in the future.
You’ll be gone one day. Sorry. We all will be. That means there will come a time when all of your assets need to be managed and distributed by someone who IS NOT you. Because of the whole death thing. Estate planning ensures your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and can make sure your relatives aren’t involved in complicated legal matters at what is sure to be an already difficult time.
Although the topic may be difficult to discuss, proper estate planning has many benefits.
- Protect your loved ones. Help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of financially. By creating a will or trust, you can designate who will inherit your assets and how they will be distributed.
- Minimize estate taxes. Help to minimize the amount of estate taxes that your heirs will have to pay.
- Avoid probate. Probate sounds bad, and it is. It’s the legal process of settling your estate after you’re gone. It can be a time-consuming, unpleaseant, and expensive process.
- Provide for your children. If you have young children, estate planning can help to ensure that they are cared for financially—and emotionally—after your death. It’s important to appoint a guardian you would trust with their care, and to create a trust for their benefit.
- Plan for your own care. Plan for your own care in case you become incapacitated. You can create a living will and appoint a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf.
There are a number of important documents you’ll want to work with a qualified attorney to prepare.
- Will. This is what most people think of when they think estate planning. A will is a legal document that states how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It also often appoints a guardian for children and a representative to manage your estate.
- Trust. This is a legal arrangement that allows you to transfer assets to another person—the trustee—to manage for the benefit of a beneficiary. Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, such as providing for children or disabled loved ones, reducing estate taxes, or avoiding probate.
- Revocable living trust. Very similar to a trust, but you can revoke or change the trust at any time. There are also potentially tax benefits associated, depending on your situation.
- Durable power of attorney. Durable power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This can include decisions about your bank accounts, investments, and property.
- Advance health care directive. This is a legal document that states your wishes for medical treatment if you become unable to communicate your wishes. This can include decisions about life support, organ donation, and end-of-life care.
- Guardianship designation. A legal document that appoints a guardian to care for your minor children if you die or become incapacitated. This can also often be created as part of your will.
- Letter of instruction. A non-binding document that communicates your wishes after your death, including information about your funeral arrangements, personal belongings, and digital assets.
In addition to these documents, since so much of our lives are online, you may also want to consider creating a digital estate plan. This includes creating a list of your online accounts and passwords, and providing instructions for how your digital assets should be handled after your death.
If you are new to estate planning, there are a few things you can do to get started:
- Educate yourself: We’ll do our best to share information here, but there are plenty of websites and sources that can provide additional information.
- Meet with an estate planning attorney: An estate planning attorney can help you create a plan that meets your individual needs. They can also answer your questions and explain the legal implications of your decisions. Our advisors can also answer many of your questions.
- Review and update your plan regularly: Your estate planning needs may change over time, so it’s important to review and update your plan regularly.
We’d hate to see you go, but if you do, we want to make sure you and yours are taken care of. And we’re here to help make sure that happens.
Range Estate Planning Services
Do You Need A Revocable Living Trust? Here are 3 Reasons to Consider One