Everyone wants to leave a legacy that’s positive and impactful. One way to do this is by planning for your future through estate planning, which helps you designate how you want your assets distributed after you’re no longer around to manage them. The best part about estate planning is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. You can review the following smart tips from a Livermore estate planning attorney and get started on the process today. Such careful preparation will help ease the burden on your loved ones when the time comes and also make sure that your assets go where you intend them to go instead of being subject to probate procedures at the courthouse.
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9 Smart Estate Planning Tips from a Livermore Estate Planning Attorney
Create a will
The first step to any estate plan is to create a will. A will is a legal document that specifies the distribution of your assets after you pass away. This will also name the executor of your estate, who will be charged with carrying out your wishes as stated in your will and overseeing the distribution of your assets according to your instructions. That way, your loved ones won’t have to go through the probate process. If you haven’t created a will yet, you should. You never know when you might pass away unexpectedly, and the probate process is a long and complex one that your loved ones would rather not have to go through. A will is also a great way to tie up any loose ends in your life. You can use your will to distribute any remaining funds from your life insurance policy, state any specific bequests that you would like to include in your will, and name guardians for any minor children in your family.
Name a trusted executor
When you make your will, you should name an executor. Your executor will be the person who will be responsible for carrying out your will after you pass away. This person should be someone who you trust completely and who you know will do what you want with your assets after you’ve gone. If you have any children, you should definitely name one of them as your executor. If you don’t have any children, you might choose a close relative, such as a sibling, or a friend who you trust to carry out your wishes. If you name someone other than your children as your executor, you will want to also leave them a letter explaining your reasoning behind your decision. This will help you avoid any hurt feelings in the future.
Estimate your estate’s value
Before you begin planning your estate, you should estimate the value of your assets. This will help you to determine how much you will need to leave to your loved ones in order to ensure that they are provided for. For example, if you have a child who is still in school and you would like to leave enough money to cover their remaining tuition, you will need to plan accordingly and leave enough for them to complete their education. While you don’t need an exact amount for every single thing that you would like to leave behind, it is helpful to have a ballpark figure of how much your assets are worth so that you can plan accordingly and make sure that your loved ones are properly provided for.
Decide how you want to leave your assets
There are two main methods of leaving your assets to your loved ones: through a will or through a trust. A will is a legal document that outlines your distribution of assets, while a trust is a legal document that is set up during your lifetime. Both of these methods have their pros and cons, so you should decide which one is best for you depending on the specifics of your situation. For example, a will can be modified at any point in time, but a trust is an estate planning contract that is completely binding for life. With that being said, most people will choose to include a trust as part of their estate planning in order to protect their assets from creditors. If you have any debt, you will want to be careful about how you leave your assets. You don’t want to leave them to your loved ones while they are still under your name.
After you’ve determined how you want to distribute your assets, you will want to name your heirs. You can name anyone who you want to inherit your assets, but there are a few people who you should probably name: your spouse, your children, and your parents. You can also name your siblings and any other family members who you would like to receive a portion of your assets. While you can name anyone you want, it is best to name only those people whom you would not feel guilty about leaving your assets to. After you’ve named your heirs, you should write a letter to each one of them to explain your reasoning behind the distribution of your assets. This will help prevent any hurt feelings from arising in the future.
Care for your loved ones after you’re gone
No matter what methods you choose to distribute your assets, it’s important to think about your loved ones after you’ve gone. Are they financially stable enough to take care of themselves? Do they have any special needs that require assistance? If so, you should include that in your estate planning. You don’t want to leave your assets to your children and have them be unable to take care of themselves because they don’t have the proper funds. With that being said, you also don’t want to leave your assets to someone who is financially unstable. You want to make sure that they will be able to use your assets to improve their situation.
Revocable Living Trust (RLT)
If you want to protect your assets from creditors, you should consider setting up a revocable living trust. A trust is a legal contract that is set up during your lifetime. It allows you to hold your assets in your name, but protects them from your creditors. You can add new assets to the trust whenever you want, but you can also remove them when you no longer want them to be included in the trust. A trust is a great way to protect your assets from creditors, but you should also make sure that you have a will in place to distribute your assets according to your wishes after you pass away.
Financial plan for your funeral expenses
This may seem like an odd thing to include in your estate planning, but it’s important to plan for funeral expenses. Funeral expenses can be astronomical, especially if you want a traditional funeral with a casket, a vault, and flowers. If you don’t have enough saved up to cover your funeral expenses, it can put a strain on your loved ones, especially if they are still grieving. You can plan for your funeral expenses by setting up a funeral expense account, purchasing a funeral insurance policy, or setting up a funeral trust. Whichever method you choose, you will be able to rest assured that your loved ones won’t have to worry about the financial burden that funeral expenses can cause.
You can still change your mind
No matter how carefully you plan your estate, things can change. You may get divorced, have a child, experience a financial crisis, get re-married, or experience some other life-changing event. If you feel the need to change your estate plan, you can do so at any time. You don’t have to wait to change your mind about something. If something comes up that completely alters your situation, you can always change your estate plan. If you are going through a divorce, you may want to change your will to name your new spouse as the beneficiary of your assets. If you have a child, you may want to change your will to name that child as your heir. Whatever your situation may be, you can always make changes to your estate plan.
While it’s important to plan carefully, you also don’t want to put so much pressure on yourself to plan the perfect estate that you end up feeling stressed out. You don’t need to have the most complicated, intricate estate plan in the world. If you follow the tips in this article and keep them in mind when you make your estate plan, you will be well on your way to creating a plan that works for you and your situation.
Connect With Livermore Estate Planning Attorney
If you have any further questions about estate planning and probate or you simply need a Livermore estate planning attorney, please reach out to us at Lewman Law. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.