Have you recently been asked if you have an estate plan? An estate plan is a series of legal documents that, essentially, instruct how your assets are handled after you pass away.
Before you draft an estate plan, you may want to consider asking the following questions:
1. What makes up an estate plan?
An estate plan typically begins with a will, which establishes who would benefit from your estate. You can also name an executor of the estate, power of attorney and child guardian. Many people also include trusts in their estate plans.
2. Who can benefit from your estate?
You can name anyone as a beneficiary of your estate. Many people begin by naming their spouse and children as heirs. They may then follow with any remaining relatives, such as siblings, parents and extended family. You can also name friends as beneficiaries.
3. What is an executor of the estate?
The executor handles the distribution of your estate. They may be responsible for contacting heirs, collecting death certificates, paying taxes and securing assets.
4. What is probate?
Simply put, probate allows the executor to complete their duties. Heirs may have to wait several months or years before they inherit from your estate because of probate.
5. Should you have a trust?
A will is susceptible to estate taxes, disputes and probate. Many people create trusts that put assets in the protection of a trustee, who is then responsible for distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the grantor’s instructions.
6. What is a power of attorney?
An estate plan can also determine what happens if you suffer from a debilitating medical condition or accident. You can name a power of attorney to act on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. They typically handle any medical and financial matters for you while you’re unable to handle them on your own.
An estate plan is a complicated matter with a lot of moving parts. It may benefit you to reach out for legal help to understand your options.