It is never too early, or too late, to put together your estate plan. Estate planning is important for a variety of reasons, including preserving your assets, limiting the strain on your loved ones when you pass, and making sure that someone you trust makes decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to make decisions on your own.
If you are ready to work on your estate plan, here are five tips for starting the process:
1. Make a List of Your Assets and Debts
The first step in preparing your estate plan is to create a list of all of your assets and debts. This will be important not only for dividing your estate, but for addressing any tax issues and resolving any outstanding problems with title and ownership as well. When compiling your list, you also should collect copies of titles, prenuptial agreements, loans, mortgages, and any other relevant documents.
2. Decide Who You Want to Receive Your Assets
Once you have compiled a list of your assets and debts, the next step is to begin thinking about who you want to receive your assets after you pass. Along with your initial beneficiary designations, you will want to think about secondary beneficiaries (in case your chosen beneficiary predeceases you) as well.
3. Decide How and When You Want Your Beneficiaries to Receive Your Assets
Wills and trusts offer different options for specifying how and when your beneficiaries will receive your assets after your death. You should think about whether you want your beneficiaries to receive your assets all at once, or if you would prefer that they gain access in the future or over a period of time. When you meet with our attorneys about your estate plan, we will discuss your options and help you choose the documents that make the most sense for your personal circumstances.
4. Think about Who You Want to Serve as Your Personal Representative and Make End-of-Life Decisions on Your Behalf
An often-overlooked part of estate planning involves choosing the individuals who will administer your estate and make financial and medical decisions on your behalf. Designating a personal representative, assigning powers of attorney, and establishing medical directives are all important parts of the estate planning process.
5. Schedule an Appointment with an Attorney to Put Together Your Estate Plan
Once you have completed these steps, the next step to take is to sit down with an attorney to put together your estate plan. It is important to note that you do not need to have your thoughts set in stone before you schedule an appointment. You are not expected to have all of the answers. In fact, part of your attorney’s job will be to make sure that you have not overlooked any important issues that you should consider before finalizing your plan.
Contact Beller & Bustamante, P.C. about Your Estate Plan
If you are ready to speak with a family law attorney about your estate plan, call Beller & Bustamante, P.L. at (904) 288-4414 or contact us online today. With offices in Jacksonville, we provide friendly and compassionate service to clients in Clay, Duval, Putnam, and St. Johns Counties.