10 Simple Steps to creating an Estate Plan

Here is a simple checklist that will help you take care of your personal, family and personal interests by drafting a will, powers of attorney, funeral plans, and more.

1. Make a will.

In simple terms, a will is a signed writing in which a testator gives directives on what is to happen to his or her wealth after their death. The testator makes a statement of the persons that they want to inherit their property in the event that something happens to them or their spouse. When drafting a will, one is required to name a guardian who will take care of their siblings and also to name an executor of the will. Attorneys such as those at the law offices of BJ Richardson is best suited for the job of an executor of a will and at the same time they can also give legal advice during drafting to ensure that the will is valid.

2. Consider a trust.

A trust is simply a legal entity that can holds title to property which is termed as the trust principal. Parties to a trust include the trust-maker, beneficiaries, and the trustee. A trust that is made while one is still alive is called a living trust while one that is made within a will is usually referred to as a testamentary trust. In the event of your demise, all your trust assets will be distributed to you beneficiaries in the manner and at the time stipulated in the trust agreement. A living trust saves your heirs the trouble of having to go through probate court which is a very exhaustive, time consuming and costly legal process.

3. Make health care directives.

Advanced healthcare declaration, durable healthcare proxy, healthcare power of attorney all refer to the same concept, that of making advance medical care directives. This generally refers to the act of appointing an agent, usually an attorney such as the law offices of BJ Richardson, to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in case you are not in a position to do so yourself. It incorporates life-prolonging treatments such as surgeries, nursing home care, and intensive medical care.

4. Make a financial power of attorney.

In the event of temporary or permanent incapacitation, it is very important that you have an agent in place who can handle all your financial affairs. An attorney can be your agent in such a situation, where you’ll have given them the authority to handle all issues related to your finances. Financial powers of attorney are usually documented in legally binding documents that will guarantee you proper execution of all the wishes you had before incapacitation.

For people with young siblings or those who have a significant amount of debt or taxes, a life insurance policy would be a very viable option. It is also important to name a guardian to manage the money and property that your minor children inherit after your death.

5. File beneficiary forms.

These are documents which contain information about one’s beneficiaries. A File beneficiary form will name the beneficiaries of all your bank accounts, retirement plans, stocks, brokerage accounts and bonds in the event of your death. Such forms will go a long way in ensuring that your heirs avoid going through the probate process which is usually very hectic.

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6. Understand estate taxes.

Current laws and regulations dictate that estate tax after one’s death can only be imposed if the estate in question is valued at more than $5.45 million. It is also stipulated that, all assets left to a spouse in a married couple are exempt from tax and are free to transfer twice the exempt amount without being taxed. This applies especially for gifts, charity and grants. Once your estate is tallied up by the estate attorneys and accountants, trusts are set up to remove all your assets from the estate, a net taxable estate and the projected tax rate is arrived at and the whole estate tax is calculated.

7. Cover funeral expenses.

It is possible for you to set up an account, which is payable-upon-death, to cater for expenses related to funeral. This is far better than using funeral prepaid plans which are generally very unreliable.

8. Make final arrangements.

It is crucial that you make known what you wish for regarding body organ transfer, disposition and donation. This is also applicable for your wishes regarding burial and cremation.

9. Protect your business.

For business owners, especially those who are sole business owners, drafting a succession plan or a buyout agreement is necessary to ensure continuity of the business.

10. Store your documents.

The custodian of your documents should be your will executor or your attorney-in-fact. These people are the only people who should have access to your documents in the event of your demise. Such documents include wills, trusts, deeds, certificates, bank account information, debt information, payment plans and final agreement documents.

Let the professionals at The Law Offices of Bj Richardson help you find the professional attorney to help you with your specific needs. We don’t handle every aspect of tax law, however , we can direct you to a  professional that can handle any area of tax law that we don’t handle.

Call today for your free 30 minute consultation. 417-234-1874

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