Estate Planning: Everything You Need to Know and Everything You Must Have

When you talk about estate planning, lots of people tend to get emotional and start to panic… why? Because people think it automatically means death or that death is coming soon; it’s actually a very tough conversation to have with those you love but it is a very necessary one.

According to theartofdyingwell.com,  death is a sad occasion but it’s one of the few things that everyone experiences and talking about it can actually help you spend your time on this Earth more wisely and give you a new perspective on life. That’s why when you’re going through the process of estate planning, it’s important to have open discussions about death with your loved ones.

One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that people tend to think that it only consists of drafting up a will but there’s so much more to it than that. You have to take the necessary steps to make sure all of your assets get distributed to the rightful heir upon you passing away. In order for you to successfully plan your estate, you want to also make sure your estate has provisions in it that will not only allow family members to have access to your assets but it will also allow them to have control of it in case something happens to you and you are no longer able to do so yourself.

If you haven’t done any estate planning or if you’re just not ready to do it yet, at least take a look at the basic essentials you must have in order to make the transfer of your assets go as smooth as possible. When you do decide to plan for your estate, you can take a look at this guide to make sure you have everything you need and that there are no decisions left to make for anyone.

A Will

When it comes to planning for your last days, people for some reason tend to think that having a will or trust is something that only people with money do but it ultimately is something that anybody can do but something everybody should do. A person’s will or trust is actually the core of someone’s estate plan, whether you have large assets to give away or not.

Wills are drafted to ensure that property is appropriately distributed to individuals without any hiccups. You’ve probably experienced or seen how funerals can tear families apart when they should be bringing friends and families closer together… it’s sad but true. Families have gone years without speaking to each other all because they’re mad at another family member for getting their grandmother’s pearls… it’s really all about entitlement.

People feel like they should get certain things when someone dies because they’ve “been there” the most in their loved one’s time of need. It’s reasons like that, that make having an estate plan so important. In addition to having a will, you also need to make sure your verbiage is reflective of the assets that are outside of your will. Things like your insurance policy. If you named your son as the beneficiary on your insurance policy, he needs to be the beneficiary on your will as well. If you have your son as the beneficiary on your insurance policy and your daughter as the beneficiary on your will, it can cause a rift in the relationship between your son and daughter, and it can place you in the middle of a serious legal battle.

This legal battle becomes very serious when a substantial amount of money is involved. This is one of the biggest reasons to teach your teens about money early on in case something does happen to their parents; they’ll know how to manage the money left to them instead of blowing it.

Reliable and Trustworthy Power of Attorney (POA)

Finding a reliable and trustworthy POA is very important. Your POA is going to be the person who will be acting on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. In naming your POA when you’ve become unable to make your own decisions, you want to make sure that the person who’s making decisions for you on your behalf is reliable and trustworthy… meaning they have the best intentions for you.

Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is a simple document that is meant for either your beneficiary or your executor. It outlines what you want to be done with your assets once you’ve passed or become incapacitated. This is the letter that you can leave details about funeral arrangements and can even leave special requests for certain people. This document isn’t necessarily valid in the eyes of the law but it will be a very helpful document in case there are issues or inconsistencies in your will.

Guardianship Designation

Guardianship designation has to be at the top of your priorities list when it comes to estate planning. When you have children under the age of 18, it’s very important that you have a legal guardian named for them because they will be the one stepping in to continue raising them in your absence. Your children need to be familiar with their guardians and feel comfortable around them.

Without appointing a legal guardian, the court could appoint a family member that you don’t want taking care of your children so make guardianship designation one of your top priorities when planning your estate. As important as this is, it is often overlooked.

The Takeaway

In order for any of this to happen, you’re going to need to hire an experienced estate attorney to help you through all of this. These types of attorneys have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly with planning for your last days and they will be able to make sure you’re making informed decisions throughout the whole process.

As mentioned earlier, the thought of having to plan for your death is scary but to also go through the process of actually doing can be a little too real for some people, which is why they put it off till later on in life. It’s understandable to be scared but you also must know that it’s not something that you have to go through alone either. The right estate attorney will be able to help you through this process legally and emotionally.

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