Ready to start estate planning?

Estate planning is one of those items on many people’s to-do list. But, how do you EVEN start estate planning? Having an estate plan in place can give you great peace of mind. Your family will know what to do in the event of your incapacity or death.

Couple with attorney start estate planning

Explore these personal finance insights that focus on how to start estate planning.

Consult with an attorney familiar with personal finance

While there are websites, like Legal Zoom, that can help you in drafting estate planning documents, in most cases its best to consult with an attorney. Look for an attorney that specializes in estate planning. This means they regularly advise clients on Wills, trusts, healthcare documents and powers of attorney. A qualified attorney is able to draft all of the estate planning documents you need. Your attorney will ask you about your family and assets. They will also ask what you want to happen if you can’t make decisions for yourself. Plus, your attorney will find out who should get what of your property and belongings once you’re gone.

Basic documents to start

Increasing your understanding of estate planning can help you better communicate your needs. These are the types of estate planning documents that are good to know before you speak with a lawyer:

  • Last Will and Testament: This document controls the distribution of your assets in probate. Here you will nominate a personal representative, who is in charge of managing your estate.
  • Living Trust: A trust also controls the distribution of your assets, but avoids probate. During your lifetime, you are in full control of the trust and its assets. You will also nominate a successor trustee, who will manage and administer the trust when you can’t.
  • Living Will: This document controls what happens if you are not able to make medical decisions for yourself. You can pick whether you want to go on life support and whether you want to donate your organs.
  • Healthcare Documents, such as Patient Advocate Designation or Health Care Surrogate Designation: These documents control who can make medical decisions when you cannot make them yourself. You will nominate one or people to act on your behalf regarding your medical care.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney controls who can make decisions about your personal affairs. For example, you nominate one or persons to do your banking and financial affairs, sell property, manage your assets, or any other type of management of your assets.
  • Deeds: A deed is the document which evidences how you own real estate. There are different methods of how to title property so you can avoid probate.

Know how to navigate your estate planning

As you can see, estate planning can be a complex process. Therefore, it’s best to be knowledgeable and informed. That’s why we recommend working with an estate planning attorney. Your lawyer will be able to greatly simplify and explain the estate planning process to you. In addition, they will ensure your desires and wishes are met. Money well spent on an attorney is a great investment for you and your family.

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