An estate plan is a comprehensive plan you have created showing how you want all of your assets handled after death or when you’re incapacitated. Estate planning ensures that all of your beneficiaries receive your possessions and other assets in a way that minimizes income and estate taxes.
When you don’t have your own estate plan, the government will do it for you — and it may not always be in your favor. For example, if you become disabled without granting a power of attorney to someone, the court will appoint a conservator to access your assets. Depending on your state, this can be intrusive and even burdensome.
According to the law, if you haven’t distributed all of your assets before death, everything you own will be distributed to your heirs. How much an individual receives will be based solely on their relationship with you. If you want to have complete control over all your assets and possessions, you need to create an estate plan.
What are the basic steps you need to take to have successful estate planning?
1. Have an Inventory of All of Your Assets
The first step to estate planning is to have a list of all of your assets. Ensure that you take note of both your tangible and intangible belongings. It’s essential to take your time and provide as much detail as possible about everything you own.
Tangible assets can include real estate such as your main home, vacation houses, apartments, or land. Vehicles, collectibles such as antiques, and other personal possessions are also considered tangible assets.
Ensure that you provide details such as the location of the real estate properties that you own or the values of antiques or collectibles that you have. Look around closely as there might be other possessions you may have missed. Remember, an estate is everything that you own, big or small.
Intangible assets include certificates of deposits, stocks, mutual funds, savings, and checking accounts. Other intangible assets that should be considered as well are retirement plans and life insurance policies.
Don’t forget to also provide monetary values for both the tangible and the intangible assets. It’s unnecessary to have an accurate valuation; you can also value these possessions in terms of how your beneficiaries or heirs will appreciate them.
2. Consider Your Family’s Needs
As soon as you have everything evaluated and listed, it’s time to think about how you would like your assets distributed. You will want to consider how much protection you want to provide your family after death or when you’re incapacitated.
Your life insurance becomes increasingly important, especially when you have several children or a child with special needs. Ensure that you have enough life insurance in place for them when you are deceased. Also, make sure that you name a guardian for your children to avoid court fights that could potentially harm your assets.
Most importantly, it would help if you wrote down all of your wishes for your children. Don’t just assume that someone will volunteer or take care of your children the way you want them to. Write everything in your will, from your smallest to your biggest wishes. A detailed will can avoid costly court issues in the future.
3. Review Your Beneficiaries
If you have insurance and retirement accounts, make sure that you review all of the listed beneficiaries. There are times when you forget who you named as beneficiaries, especially when you bought your policies or accounts many years ago. Review all of your documents as much as possible. Make changes as necessary.
Also, never leave a beneficiary section blank. Otherwise, it will be evenly distributed to your heirs, according to the laws in your state. It’s also imperative that you name backup beneficiaries just in case if the primary person dies before you do.
4. Know Your State’s Estate Tax Laws
One of the most critical steps to creating a successful estate plan is to educate yourself on your state’s estate laws to minimize inheritance, estate, income, and other taxes involved.
Some states will have inheritance and estate taxes. Your heirs will have to pay taxes for assets that they will inherit from you for inheritance taxes. How much taxes they will need to pay varies by state. They may also have to report inheritance money to the IRS, especially when it can produce income such as rent or dividends.
You can reduce estate taxes by spending your assets, giving them away, or shielding them in a trust.
5. Make Changes to Your Estate Plan
Keep in mind that your estate plan is not permanent. You can revisit or reevaluate your estate plan as you see fit.
You can revisit your estate plan when your life circumstances change, such as having another child or going through a divorce.
A complete estate plan also includes essential directives such as a durable financial power of attorney, a limited power of attorney, a living will, and a trust.
Hire an Estate Planning Attorney in Rocklin, California
With an attorney, you can be confident knowing they will draft all your estate planning documents per your state’s current law. You will have peace of mind knowing that the legal papers created will reflect all your goals for your legacy.
Most importantly, your attorney is your one trusted resource if you or your beneficiaries have questions about your estate. Remember, creating an estate involves working with taxes, and an attorney is highly adept at working with tax laws.
You can minimize taxes, and your beneficiaries will be genuinely protected when you work with the right Rocklin, California attorney in creating your estate plan.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Filippi Law Firm. We take pride in providing only exceptional estate planning services to all of our clients. Our dedicated legal team can handle all your personal affairs when it comes to anything estate-related.
We provide trusted legal advice that you can always rely on, no matter how simple or complex. Contact us today for assistance.