Planning is an important part of our lives. Whether it is planning for a vacation or an important move, having an outline of steps to take saves you time, money, and energy.
Another thing you can plan is your estate. Planning for the day you’re gone might make you uncomfortable. In fact, you’re not alone—majority of Americans don’t have a will. However, estate planning reaps benefits for you and your loved ones when the time comes.
What Is Estate Planning?
In estate planning, you determine how your assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed when the untoward happens. Your assets can include cars, houses, artwork, life insurance, debt, and pensions. You can plan your estate for various reasons, such as:
- Preserving family wealth
- Funding your children or grandchildren’s education
- Providing your surviving spouse and children
- Leaving your legacy behind to a charitable cause
Writing a will is the first step in estate planning. Other major estate planning tasks include:
- Establishing trust accounts in the names of beneficiaries to limit estate taxes
- Assigning a guardian for living dependents
- Appointing an executor to oversee the terms of the will
- Making funeral arrangements
- Donating annually to qualified charitable and non-profit organizations to reduce taxable estates
Why Do You Need to Plan Your Estate?
Planning your estate may not be as fun as planning for other life events, but it helps you avoid potentially harmful consequences for your loved ones. You need an estate plan to:
#1: Eliminate conflicts among loved ones. Chances are the people you’ll leave behind would not know what to do with the property they’ve inherited. Having a plan allows them to properly allocate the property and use them based on your wishes.
#2: Protect beneficiaries. Whether or not you’re a breadwinner, you’ll have assets you want to pass on to your heirs. Estate planning ensures that your property is transferred to the right people.
#3: Reduce taxes for your loved ones. When your beneficiaries inherit property, they still have to pay the state’s estate and inheritance taxes. By planning ahead, you can decrease their tax burden, allowing them to enjoy their inheritance to the fullest.
Tips in Planning Your Estate
Learning the first steps to take in estate planning ensures you will get it right the first time. Here are some ways to make planning your estate easier:
#1: Assemble a team. Working with a team that includes a financial advisor, tax advisor, and an estate planning lawyer can help you devise a plan that’s tailored to your needs. In distributing your assets, you want to make sure that there is little confusion regarding who should receive them.
#2: Keep a written record of your wishes. In your estate plan, specify what will happen to your probate assets and possessions upon your death. Without it, the state may decide for you. Include the following components in your estate plan:
- Financial power of attorney
- Healthcare power of attorney
- Living will
- Last will and testament
#3: Establish guardianship for dependents. Name a guardian to look after minor children or a loved one with special needs. Be sure to get the consent of your chosen guardian before proceeding.
#4: Consider getting a trust. Think of a trust as a container that holds money for your heirs. You decide what goes into the trust, who gets what, and how it’s distributed.
#5: Plan for taxes. Talk to professionals to determine which estate tax planning strategies are appropriate for your situation.
Hire An Estate Planning Attorney Today
Keep control of your assets and financial affairs by hiring us at The Law Office of R. Grace Rodriguez. Our attorneys in Los Angeles will work with you to create and implement a plan to protect and provide for you and your family.
A smart estate plan must be flexible enough to adapt to life’s changes, like the ability to add or change beneficiaries or a change in the law. Our team will help you maintain control over your assets and financial affairs by building long-term relationships and guiding you through changes in your families, your finances, and the law over time. With this long-term planning, your estate plan will work the way it should from the day it is planned up to the future.
Learn how we can help you plan your estate and give you peace of mind. Call us today at (818) 734-7223.