As you consider building your estate plan, the process can often feel time consuming and overwhelming. However, creating a cohesive and detailed estate plan will benefit your loved ones tremendously and alleviate confusion as they work to distribute your estate after your passing. Here, qualified estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein discusses the top five things to remember in your estate plan, and how each of these items plays a crucial role in ensuring that your estate is delegated in accordance with your wishes.
A Last Will and Testament
Your last will and testament is a fundamental building block in your estate plan. Your will outlines who will inherit the estate, how your assets will be distributed and name the executor of your will. When creating your will, it is important to outline exactly how you would like your estate distributed, and what powers your executor will have. Additionally, if you have minor children, your will outlines who you would like their legal guardian to be until they reach the age of majority. Having an updated and valid will is extremely important, as it is up to the state to make decisions on your behalf if a will is not created, leaving your loved ones struggling to pick up the pieces.
A Revocable Living Trust
In addition to your last will, establishing a revocable trust may be a needed addition to your estate plan. A revocable living trust, similar to a will, outlines where your assets will go when you pass. Additionally, a revocable trust allows your loved ones to move through the probate process quickly. Probate is a court-supervised process of authenticating an individual’s last will and testament, and can often be a lengthy process. Probate can sometimes be an issue for families trying to deal with repaying the debts of their loved one who has passed away, and can come with frustration as you work with the court to validate the will.
Durable Financial and Healthcare Power of Attorney
Deciding on a power of attorney for your estate plan is important to help you handle your assets in both life and death. When you become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions on your own, you may need a power of attorney to take responsibility for these decisions. There are varying levels of power that this individual can have, and depending on where you are in your life stage, you can allow this individual to make decisions in regard to business, healthcare and financial matters. You have likely worked hard for years to establish a business and maintain financial stability, so ensuring that your finances are in good hands before you pass is important.
Instructions for Distribution of Digital Assets
One section of your estate plan that is often overlooked is the distribution of your digital assets. As technology continues to increase, many important documents and memories are often stored online or on personal computers. Because of this, detailing how you would like your digital assets distributed after your death is an important consideration. Because of the complex nature of digital assets, it is important to outline exactly what information you would like saved, and be sure to include a list of passwords so that your loved ones are able to easily access online profiles and additional digital information.
A Letter of Intent and Important Financial Documents
Finally, when completing your estate plan, be sure not to overlook small details that outline your desires for a funeral. A letter of intent concerning any funeral or memorial services, as it sounds, outlines what you intend to happen after your passing, such as if you would like a memorial service and how you would like your funeral to conducted. In addition to your letter of intent, you should gather your important financial and personal documents where your loved ones can find them after your death. This will make administering your estate easier for family members. These documents includes any life insurance policies, deeds, bank accounts, investments and papers such as birth certificates or divorce records.
Consult With the Lauenstein Law Team for Estate Planning Assistance
While you are able to start the estate planning process on your own, consulting with qualified professionals such as the team at Lauenstein Law can relieve stress and instill confidence that your estate plan is completed in its entirety, and that your assets will be delegated in accordance with your wishes. To learn more about how estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein can help you, contact our office today.