A lot of people think that estate planning is a simple matter that doesn’t require much thought. You get out a pen and paper and draw up a last will on your own at some point, or you download a boilerplate form off the Internet. You take a few minutes, and you are good to go.
This perspective is risky at best and downright irresponsible at worst. When you are planning your estate, you are arranging for the transfer of everything that have to the people that you love the most. This is a profound endeavor, and it should be taken seriously.
In this post, we will provide a bit of a checklist that you can use as a general guide so you understand all of the components that should be considered when you are devising a plan.
Inventory Your Assets
One step in the process will be an inventory of your assets. This may seem like an overstatement of the obvious, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Your surface ideas may be washed away in a hurry if you really start to drill down seriously
Family heirlooms are passed down from generation to generation, and they have enormous sentimental and historical value. Plus, some heirlooms are very valuable from a monetary perspective.
You should take stock of all of the heirlooms that you have in your possession, and you can consider the ideal caretaker for each piece. In addition to the items that you have received, you can pass along personally acquired items that are imbued with special meaning.
Consider Potential Representatives
A well-constructed estate plan will address end-of-life issues along with the events that will take place after you are gone. Many people become unable to make sound decisions late in their lives, and this is an unfortunate fact that everyone should face head on.
You can name a health care representative through the execution of a durable power of attorney for health care. For financial decision-making, you can add a durable power of attorney for property.
When you are thinking everything through, you should ask yourself who you should empower to make these decisions on your behalf.
Address Long-Term Care Costs
Most seniors will need living assistance eventually, and more than one third of elders will require nursing home care per se. These facilities are extremely expensive, and Medicare does not pay for the custodial care that nursing homes provide.
When you are thinking about your legacy, it is important to consider the impact of possible long-term care costs. You do not necessarily have to deduct the direct payments from your calculations, because with the proper planning, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid. This government program does pay for long-term care.
The final step will be to bring everything together, and this will include the choice of an asset transfer vehicle. Many people assume that trusts are only for the wealthy, but this is really not the case at all.
There are trusts that can be useful for people from all walks of life, and the right choice will depend upon the circumstances. You really cannot be completely sure that you are taking the correct steps if you do not gain an understanding of all your options.
An estate planning attorney can evaluate all of the facts that are unique to you and your family and make the appropriate recommendations.
Download Our Comprehensive Estate Planning Worksheet!
We have scratched the surface by sharing a little bit of food for thought in this blog post. You can take the next step if you download our carefully prepared, comprehensive estate planning worksheet.
It is being offered free of charge right now, and you can visit our worksheet access page to get your copy.