After spending a lifetime earning your assets, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to keep those assets safe through estate planning. When handled properly, this process ensures your family is prepared and protected if you are incapacitated or pass away.
10 Critical Elements to Estate Planning Success
You are probably aware you should put together a will and make your medical wishes known to your family, but that’s just the start. These are the top 10 items you don’t want to forget when working with a skilled estate planning and asset protection lawyer:
- Checking on and updating life insurance policies or retirement plans.
- Considering specifically where you want your assets and heirlooms to go, like charities, social groups, family members, close friends, and so on.
- Having a plan in place for an unexpected catastrophe, such as if you, your spouse, and your children all die at the same time in an accident.
- Keeping long-term care at a nursing home in mind if you experience a physical disability or a medical diagnosis such as Alzheimer's Disease. This possibility needs to be considered well in advance, as you may need to utilize Medicaid to cover the extremely high costs, and the program’s five-year lookback period can cause you trouble.
- Knowing who can step in to take up guardianship of minor children.
- Placing assets in a trust to avoid the cost and long delays involved with the probate process. This can be especially important if you have special needs children or specifically want to protect assets from former spouses or financially irresponsible adult children.
- Picking the right person to oversee trusts or act as executor to your estate after you pass away.
- Re-tooling your estate plan if you divorce, re-marry, or have new additions to the family like children, grandchildren, or son/daughter in-laws.
- Reviewing ownership of property or businesses and deciding if joint-ownership may be the right way to go.
- Taking into account the potential tax consequences of gifting assets to family members before you pass away.
Discuss These Topics With an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Estate planning isn't a "one-size-fits-all” process. Your specific needs can vary widely depending on your health, family makeup, estate size, and other factors. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to discover the right combination of strategies for your situation. Be sure to read our free book on what you need to know about estate planning, and then call or message us when you are ready to get started protecting your legacy.