What is the most important thing about estate planning? We get that question a lot. Today we want to unpack it for you and help you make (or revisit) your estate plan to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
The Most Important Thing About Estate Planning
Actually, there’s more than one important thing about estate planning. There are many very important things to consider in estate planning, so let’s dive in.
#1 – Have an Estate Plan
If you have any assets or debts, property of any kind, or children or pets that would need care after your death, you have an estate, so you need an estate plan.
Many people don’t like to think about death, so they don’t think about the potential mess they could be leaving behind for their loved ones. We know it’s unpleasant to think about death and dying, but we all will experience it and have likely already experienced it with loved ones. Let’s remember that estate planning is another way to show love and care to those we leave behind.
Don’t make the mistake of not making an estate plan and then leaving it to your loved ones and the Court to sort out. Prepare well and leave a good plan in place. It will save your loved ones time, hassle, and even unnecessary heartache.
Watch this video to learn more about estate plans and who needs them.
#2 – Hire a Professional to Help
A lot of people neglect thing #1 because they don’t know where to start or what they need. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney makes thing #1 easy. This is what we do every day. We help people plan and execute the exact documents they need for their estate plans.
There are so many moving parts to estate planning. Hiring a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to help navigate the process and guide you to the exact plan that is right for you and your loved ones offers peace of mind. We know the right questions to ask to guide you to the right tools for you.
Give us a call. We’re here to help. We promise we make it as easy as we possibly can.
#3 – Make it Crystal Clear
Clarity is key in estate planning. Don’t leave anything up to anyone’s interpretation. Say exactly what you mean. This will prevent disputes and confusion and keep the process smooth for those executing your estate plan.
You may be wondering what we mean about clarity within your estate plan. A good example is naming beneficiaries. Name each person by name. Don’t say “I leave everything to my children.” Instead, list each child by name and the exact item or percentage of the estate they should receive. This is especially important should you intend for a stepchild or a significant other that is not a spouse to receive anything. If you do not list those people by name, the state may not consider them to be heirs under the terms of your estate plan.
Think about the recent headlines regarding Aretha Franklin’s estate. If there had been clarity within her Will, her estate would likely be settled by now—without the five-year battle between the people she loved.
The goal of a good estate plan is for your wishes to be carried out peacefully and promptly.
#4 – Make Sure Someone Knows Where It’s Stored
This may seem like a silly one, but you may have the best estate plan ever written in the history of the world, but if no one knows where it is upon your death then it’s not doing its job!
Many attorneys recommend you store your original Will and/or Trust in a safe deposit box at your bank, others suggest a fireproof safe at your home. Regardless of where you store your estate plan, it is crucial that someone you trust knows where it is. Because at the time of your death, those documents will be crucial in carrying out your wishes.
So, store it in a safe place and make sure someone close to you knows where to find it. We know talking to loved ones about your death can feel awkward or downright impossible, but it is important—even if just to know where your documents are stored. For helpful hints on how to have the conversation, read this article.
#5 – Know Estate Planning Isn’t “One and Done”
Your life doesn’t stay the same year after year, so remember that your estate plan will need to morph and change. The plans you put in place at age 25 or 30, will certainly not be what you need at age 45 or 50. This is good and this is normal.
Things change. Children and grandchildren are born. Loved ones pass away. Relationships and financial situations change. Your estate plan will need to do the same.
Reviewing your estate plan and beneficiary designations once a year is good to make sure it’s still what you want and everyone is accounted for. If something changes, don’t worry! It’s easy to change (everything can be changed except an irrevocable trust). Just give us a call and we’ll update the plan for you.
As you can see, there are many important things about estate planning.
The professionals at Siedentopf Law are here to help make sure your estate plan meets your needs and will serve your loved ones well whenever you pass. Give us a call at 404-736-6066 or schedule a consultation through our website to discuss your estate plan today.