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The phrase “estate planning” is one that throws fear into the heart of many people. While this may not be something you look forward to, with the right approach it can be something you tackle with confidence and efficiency.
When it comes time to create an estate plan or alter one that you already have in place, it goes without saying that you’ll have some questions. While you can search for answers on your own, you don’t want to look just anywhere for advice. Instead, you need to rely on high quality resources that will provide you with the guidance you need to make informed and confident decisions.
Our website is full of information pertaining to estate planning. As you browse the many pages, you’ll soon find that there is more to this than meets the eye. For example, an estate plan is more than just a will. It can go well beyond this.
Before we review some estate planning frequently asked questions, let’s take a closer look at the definition of estate planning. Here is how we define the term on our website:
“Estate planning is the preservation and the distribution of your assets, both during your life and upon your death. It is accomplishing your personal and family goals and easing the management of your financial and legal affairs, as well as minimizing estate taxes if your estate is large enough for estate taxes to be of concern.”
With that definition guiding you, you should have a better idea of what estate planning is all about and where you fit in. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have any questions as you move forward.
It’s only natural to have questions when creating an estate plan. Even if you have some knowledge of how this process works, there’s no denying that there will be times when you have to poke around for answers. Here are some of the many questions you probably want to address at some point:
What is the primary goal of your estate plan?
You shouldn’t create an estate plan because you know it’s the right thing to do. Instead, set goals to ensure that you’re on the right track and that your mind is at ease. An example of this would be an estate plan that not only covers all your assets, but also takes into consideration a loved one with a disability. If you find yourself in this position, you’ll need to set goals associated with disability planning. The primary goal of your estate plan doesn’t have to be the same as the next person. It simply needs to match the wants and needs of your family.
Will you choose a trust or will?
It goes without saying that there are pros and cons of both, so you owe it to yourself to compare each option. With a trust, you have the ability to pass assets onto your heirs without going through the probate process. Furthermore, trust administration is 100 percent private. A will, however, remains a popular estate planning tool because it’s easier and more affordable to create. Furthermore, a will is easier to alter as you age. While this is an important question to address, remember this: there’s no right or wrong answer. Again, you need to do what’s best for you and your family.
Have you considered any aspects of incapacity planning?
When most people think about estate planning, one thing comes to mind: making sure their assets end up with the right people. As important as this may be, you don’t want to overlook incapacity planning. This is exactly what it sounds like: the creation of a plan that will guide your loved ones in the event that you become incapacitated. For example, a living will allows you to share your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself.
A power of attorney is another document to consider. You can use this to transfer power to another person, such as to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated. There’s nothing exciting about incapacity planning, but it should be a big part of your estate plan.
Is pet planning something you need to consider?
If you don’t own a pet, such as a dog or cat, this may not mean much to you. However, if you’re a pet owner, you realize the fears associated with leaving it behind. With the right pet plan in place, you can be rest assured that your special friend will be taken care of after you pass on. For instance, you can use a pet trust to leave money that is to be used solely for the care of your animal.
Will you create your own estate plan or work with an attorney?
In today’s world of advanced technology, a growing number of people are looking into DIY wills and trusts. As tempting as this may be, it’s something to resist for many reasons:
- You need to become familiar with the estate planning and inheritance laws in your particular state.
- One mistake, no matter how big or small, can have a long lasting impact on your loved ones.
- You won’t have anywhere to turn for help during the process.
When you work with an attorney, none of this comes into play. Instead, you have somebody on your side who can explain the law, answer your questions, and help you avoid every possible mistake.
Where to Turn for Help
As you can see, there are a lot of questions out there. Maybe you know the answer to some of these. Or maybe you need to sit down and answer each one in great detail. Either way, you don’t want to move forward until you have more information in hand. If you do, you could make a poor decision that works against your family at some point in the future.
Although you can find plenty of answers online, there is no replacement for speaking with an estate planning attorney. You want somebody who is available to answer your questions. Even more so, you want somebody who can review your situation and provide guidance and advice based on what they see. This will give you peace of mind as you create your estate plan.
If you need any help, our law firm is available to provide assistance. It doesn’t matter what you are dealing with, you know we can step in and show you the way. Contact us online or via phone at (732) 238-6000. Once we connect, you’ll no longer feel alone. Instead, you’ll know for sure that you are on the right track in regards to your estate plan.