What Should I Cover in My Initial Estate Plan?
Estate planning can be an intimidating prospect for most people given the importance of the final product. It doesn’t help that most of the tools and strategies used in an estate plan are unfamiliar to the average person. Narrowing down the focus of your estate plan can help. Toward that end, the Blue Ash estate planning attorneys at Zimmer Law Firm explain what you should cover in your initial estate plan.
5 Things to Focus on In Your Estate Plan
Although every estate plan is as unique as the person who created the plan, there are some things that most people choose to focus on in an initial plan, including:
- Providing for loved ones. This requires you to consider more than just how to distribute your estate assets upon your death. It also requires you to consider the possibility of your incapacity and how you will make sure your loved ones are financially secure if you become incapacitated. Estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney or revocable trust created as part of a larger incapacity planning component within your comprehensive estate plan can help ensure that your loved ones are provided for if anything happens to you.
- Choosing fiduciary roles. Even a basic estate plan will require you to appoint an Executor in a Last Will and Testament. Other fiduciary roles include things such as a Trustee who is responsible for overseeing the administration of a trust agreement and a Guardian for minor children. A common mistake people make when creating an estate plan is appointing someone close to them to a fiduciary role without taking the time to consider if that person has the skills, experience, and commitment necessary to successfully fulfill the role.
- Deciding how you will distribute your estate assets. A Last Will and Testament can distribute your entire estate; however, there are several reasons why you might want to use one or more trusts to distribute most of your estate. If you have minor children, for example, who cannot inherit directly from your estate you will need to establish a trust to guard their inheritance. A trust agreement may also be needed if you have a child with special needs, are married to a non-citizen, or simply want to stagger the inheritance you leave to beneficiaries.
- Trying to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process that is typically required after someone dies. It can be a lengthy and costly process. It can also be stressful for your loved ones. Taking the time to incorporate probate avoidance tools and strategies in your estate plan benefits your loved ones and can prevent the loss of estate assets to the cost of probate. Something as simple as converting assets to non-probate assets that bypass probate can go a long way toward this goal.
- Planning for your retirement years. Even if you are still relatively young it is not too early to think about retirement planning. After all, you have likely been saving money for retirement since you started working. Amassing assets may not be enough to prepare you for your retirement years. Those very assets may be at risk if you need to qualify for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care during your Golden Years. You can protect those assets by including a Medicaid planning component in your estate plan. You should also ensure that your estate plan and retirement plan work harmoniously before you reach retirement age.
Contact One of Our Loveland Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys at Zimmer Law Firm by calling 513-721-1513 to schedule your appointment today.