Even if you have a modest estate, it’s important that you know the basics of estate planning, as well as get expert assistance in making plans. Young or old, wealthy or not so much, you can make life easier on your loved ones during a time of grief by being proactive. For this reason, we advise you to start the estate planning process as early as possible.
What can you do now to ensure that your assets go to the people you choose, not those the state chooses, or that your affairs will be taken care of as you wish if you become incapacitated?
1. Take inventory of your assets and liabilities: Compile a list of the value of your home and other real estate, cars, jewelry, artwork, etc. Gather recent bank, brokerage and other account statements. Make a list of all insurance policies, their cash values and death benefits. Finally, list all liabilities, including mortgages, lines of credit and other debt.
2. Define your estate planning goals: To whom do you want your assets distributed, and in what proportions? Who should manage your affairs if you become incapacitated? Who should distribute your assets upon your death? Who will make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated? Answering these and other difficult questions before you meet with an estate attorney can save you both time and money.
3. Have estate planning attorneys draft your documents: Since laws regulating estate settlement vary from state to state, we recommend that you meet with a highly experienced attorney to prepare your estate plan. The compassionate, caring and experienced attorneys of Gummer Elder Law help seniors and their family members navigate the difficult and complex requirements necessary to plan for their future. Our services protect you with the preparation of Wills, Power of Attorney, Living Wills, and Trusts. Also, our Elder Law Attorneys can assist with Guardianships, Medicaid (Asset Protection) Planning, Probate, Estate Administration, and Nursing Home and Long Term Care matters.
4. Follow through on your plan: If you set up a trust, fund it promptly. If you fail to do so, the agreement won’t take effect, and your assets may not pass to your beneficiaries as you’d intended.
5. Reduce your overall estate with charitable gifting: Charitable gifts will reduce your gross estate.
Please take the time to explore our website and become familiar with the practice of Gummer Elder Law. Contact us with any questions about estate planning or any other inquiry as it relates to the practice of elder law.