Seven Steps to a Successful Estate Plan
Do you need an estate plan? For those with substantial assets, estate planning is essential to preserve and protect wealth for future generations and to minimize estate taxes. However, even if your net worth is more modest and death taxes are less of a concern, proper estate planning allows you to control the distribution of your property, ensure that those you select will care for your children, avoid unnecessary court proceedings and reduce the chances of family disputes. A good estate plan is a map left for your loved ones who continue on the journey of life without you. Taking the time to complete an estate plan is an act of caring and concern for those you leave behind. Attorney William R. Burford shares seven steps to a successful estate plan that will provide a legacy of stability and certainty for your loved ones. 1. Contemplate Life Without You Take a few minutes to contemplate your family without you. If you died tomorrow, what would happen to your loved ones? Along with grieving, your family may face many important financial decisions:
- Would your survivors know what assets are left for them, where to find the necessary documents, whom to call and what to do?
- Do you know what legal proceedings would be required or their cost?
- If you have children, do you know who would care for them?
- Would there be funds available to support them?
- Do you know to whom your property would pass?
- How is title to your property held?
- Should property be held in joint tenancy?
- Should you establish a living trust?
- What is probate?
- What are the costs and benefits of a living trust?
- Should your assets be left outright to a child or spouse?
- Who should act as your executor or successor trustee?
- Should you appoint a single trustee or co-trustees?
- When should you consider a bank or other professional fiduciary?
- How can you assure that your beneficiaries are treated fairly?
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