Your estate is really everything you own, including homes, other real estate, cars, savings, life insurance policies, investments, furniture, and personal belongings. When you die, you need to plan in advance to have your estate distributed the way you want it to be. You must specify who gets what and when. You also want it to happen without paying extra legal fee, court fees, or taxes. That is the essence of estate planning - designating in advance who you want to receive your possessions after you pass. If you don't have a plan, the state will and it will be the state that decides all of these things for your family and loved ones for you.
Begin with a will or living trust.
A will provides your instructions for distribution, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through your state’s probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs.This can take a long time and can be expensive with legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. To avoid probate, you can have jointly owned property and assets, and some assets which allow for beneficiaries can be distributed without probate as well as assets that let you name a beneficiary such as life insurance policies and IRAs.
Next Important Steps.
Name a guardian for your care in case your are disabled
Name a guardian for minor children
Update your life insurance policies and make sure the beneficiaries are correct
Provide for any business assets
An Ongoing Process.
Estate planning must be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
The best time to plan your estate is now.
Don't wait until it is too late. So many families put it off and are caught off-guard when the unexpected happens. You can put something simple in place now and change it later…which is exactly the way estate planning should be done.
Our estate planning can help you insure that your assets and family are taken care of the way you want them to. At Carroll & Carroll
Attorneys at Law, we can get this process started and advise you through the entire process.