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 riskyat best and downright irresponsible at worst. When you are planning yourestate, you are arranging for the transfer of everything that have to thepeople that you love the most. This is a profound endeavor, and it should betaken seriously.
In this post, we willprovide a bit of a checklist that you can use as a general guide so youunderstand all of the components that should be considered when you aredevising a plan.
Inventory Your Assets
One step in the processwill be an inventory of your assets. This may seem like an overstatement of theobvious, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Your surface ideas may bewashed away in a hurry if you really start to drill down seriously
Family heirlooms arepassed down from generation to generation, and they have enormous sentimentaland historical value. Plus, some heirlooms are very valuable from a monetaryperspective.
You should take stock ofall of the heirlooms that you have in your possession, and you can consider theideal caretaker for each piece. In addition to the items that you have received,you can pass along personally acquired items that are imbued with specialmeaning.
Consider Potential Representatives
A well-constructed estateplan will address end-of-life issues along with the events that will take placeafter you are gone. Many people become unable to make sound decisions late intheir lives, and this is an unfortunate fact that everyone should face head on.
You can name a healthcare representative through the execution of a durable power of attorney forhealth care. For financial decision-making, you can add a durable power ofattorney for property.
When you are thinkingeverything through, you should ask yourself who you should empower to makethese decisions on your behalf.
Address Long-Term Care Costs
Most seniors will needliving assistance eventually, and more than one third of elders will requirenursing home care per se. These facilities are extremely expensive, andMedicare does not pay for the custodial care that nursing homes provide.
When you are thinkingabout your legacy, it is important to consider the impact of possible long-termcare costs. You do not necessarily have to deduct the direct payments from yourcalculations, because with the proper planning, you may be able to qualify forMedicaid. This government program does pay for long-term care.
The final step will be tobring everything together, and this will include the choice of an assettransfer vehicle. Many people assume that trusts are only for the wealthy, butthis is really not the case at all.
There are trusts that canbe useful for people from all walks of life, and the right choice will dependupon the circumstances. You really cannot be completely sure that you aretaking the correct steps if you do not gain an understanding of all youroptions.
An estate planningattorney can evaluate all of the facts that are unique to you and your family andmake the appropriate recommendations.
Download Our Comprehensive Estate Planning Worksheet!
We have scratched thesurface by sharing a little bit of food for thought in this blog post. You cantake the next step if you download our carefully prepared, comprehensive estateplanning worksheet.
It is being offered freeof charge right now, and you can visit our worksheet access page to get your copy.