Estate planning is an important milestone and a critical part of our adult life. It is the process of structuring and distributing your assets and responsibilities to your family members for a prosperous and secure future. The process can be complex and difficult to keep track of the documents you may need to complete your estate plan. Knowing the basics can help you navigate through the process and ensure you have made a comprehensive plan to secure the future of your family. As you start to plan ahead for your beneficiaries, you should consult experienced family law and real estate attorney to guide you in making the right choices.
The List of Documents
A complete set of estate planning documents will include the following to ensure all legal aspects have been covered and to reduce any future complications family members may face. The list includes:
- The Will,
- Trust agreements and other recoverable trusts,
- HIPAA Authorization,
- Beneficiary designations for life insurance,
- 401(K) plans and IRAs,
- Powers of attorney for health care and property.
The Will should be in written form and made by a Will maker who is 18 years or older. It needs to be signed by the maker and two witnesses while detailing how the assets will be distributed and what are the responsibilities of those included. It allows an individual or a group to receive funds, buy or sell properties and manage other legal matters. Having a Will removes the need for surety bonds and reduces the expenses needed to transfer assets to a guardian.
Under a trust agreement or a living trust, a trustee manages the property for the beneficiary. It is seen as a vehicle to transfer assets during lifetime and after death.
Likewise, the power of attorney for both healthcare and property provides someone the right to manage an asset, or receive funds for healthcare after it is initiated. An agent gets the power to act on your behalf.
Assessing Your Assets
It is important to make a list of your assets before initiating your estate plan. It helps process taxes and identifies homes, lands, vehicles, businesses, bank accounts, financial assets, collectibles and life insurance policies that need to be distributed to beneficiaries. Planning in advance and making changes as they occur is a good way to keep a track of your Will and assets.
If you need advice on estate planning or other family law related matters, schedule a free consultation by contacting Casement Law Group at (847) 888-9300 to speak with an experienced family and real estate lawyer to help understand your rights and obligations.