Planning your estate is not a simple process. As your life grows and evolves, you need to make new considerations for the different people and responsibilities in your life.
Although your estate will have its own unique needs, these questions can help you make an outline and prepare you for a conversation with your estate planning attorney.
What Documents Do You Need?
An estate plan consists of a set of legal documents that you leave behind. A will is an essential part of an estate plan, but you also might include a beneficiary designation, healthcare power of attorney, or letter of intent. Each of these documents will help your relatives make decisions if you become unable to make them for yourself. You may also want to include copies of documents your relatives may need, including property titles and medical information.
Your estate planning attorney can help you determine which documents you need to add to your estate plan. Fill out as many forms as you think you need. The clearer your intent is, the easier it will be for your relatives to make decisions on your behalf.
Who Needs Your Care and Attention?
Estate planning isn't something we do for ourselves; we make plans so that our loved ones will be alright after we move on. Take a moment to think about the people who will be most affected, either financially or emotionally, by your passing. Do you have children that will need a new guardian? Do you provide financial support for an elderly relative? Who will look after your pets? If you own a business, who will take it over? On an emotional level, who will be most saddened by your death, and can you leave them a memento?
It can be easy to forget the amount of impact we have on people around us. Think of your responsibilities, both big and small, and make considerations for each of them. This can be one of the most time consuming and emotional parts of the estate planning process, so be gentle with yourself. Don't be afraid to ask your attorney for advice if you aren't sure how to plan for a specific scenario.
Who Will Inherit Your Home?
Your estate plan grows with you over your lifetime. When you purchase a new home, you may need to update your plan to include new inheritance stipulations. If you are still making payments, your estate will pay the remainder upon your passing.
The executor of your will is responsible for handling this process. Make sure your attorney has the documents and information they need so that they won't have to contact your family members during a sensitive time.
How Much Influence Do You Want to Have?
The way your money moves after your death is entirely up to you. Do you trust your heirs to handle your estate freely, or do you want to set up a trust? This question is especially important to discuss with your estate planning attorney.
Depending on the size and nature of your estate, your attorney will be able to work with you to put together a plan that fits your intentions and provides the most security for your loved ones. Remember to both realistic and compassionate about the amount of responsibility your relatives are prepared for.
What Are Your Overall Goals?
Your estate plan will eventually become one of the last ways you can make an impact. Death is extremely uncertain, and it may happen before you finish accomplishing your goals. If you have projects or passions that won't be finished before you are gone, leave plans so that a loved one may complete them in your stead.
Whether you have an unfinished novel or simply want someone to continue your role in a local organization, a note explaining your intentions will help you leave your legacy as you intended it. Don't forget to update your plan as your life evolves. Speak to your attorney on a semi-regular basis to make sure your documents are current and relevant.
At Chesser & Barr, P.A., we understand how difficult the estate planning process can be. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are prepared to help you determine which documents you need, ensure that you file your paperwork correctly, and decide which parts of your estate most need your attention.
No matter where you are in the estate planning process, don't be afraid to reach out to us for advice.
Contact our firm today at (850) 610-7471 for experienced and compassionate legal counsel.