All assets you possess when you die are your estate. These assets include real estate, bank accounts, stocks and securities, life insurance, and other personal property. What happens to all this when you die? No one can take their possessions with them after death, and that is why an estate plan is so important. With an estate plan, you get to decide what happens to your property and who benefits from it.
Plan for Every Possibility
The saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” However, it can be very hard to know what to plan for. So, in the case of your estate plan, it is important to think of and plan for every possibility. You want to make sure that your family or beneficiaries are protected, your assets are taken care of, and you have someone who can make decisions in the event you are no longer able. Some key pieces to allow this to happen are a living will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and a trust. Planning in this way gives you peace of mind knowing plans are in place for the future.
Probate distributes your estate following your death. Reasons why you may want to avoid this is it is a slow process, it can be costly, and it is a legal proceeding which makes it public. Naming beneficiaries on your accounts is the simplest way to avoid probate. This means that beneficiaries will have already been decided, reducing the number of steps in the process. Other ways to avoid probate are to have a small estate or to make your estate smaller, having a living trust, have another owner on your property, and setting accounts to be based on death.
Seek Guidance from Professionals
Your estate plan is an important part of you because it states what happens to your assets. If your estate is large, it can become complex and more difficult to navigate your estate plan. To not miss anything, or to make the best decisions possible, it may be helpful to seek help from legal or financial professionals. It is also a good idea to update your estate plan from time to time, as changes in life stages are inevitable which often comes with changes to your estate as well as who your beneficiaries are and what you want for them. Professionals can help you to make these updates to your plan as needed to make sure that your plan can be effective.
At the end of the day, people are more important than possessions and money. But when you are leaving possessions and money behind, it is good to know that a plan is in place for where it all goes. Plans become especially important when you are leaving behind loved ones, so planning now before you are unable to plan is the most important step you can take for your estate.
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