The Dos and Don’ts of Estate Planning

The Dos and Don’ts of Estate Planning

When you think of the idea of estate planning, it might seem intimidating at first. However, it’s pretty simple because you’re just preparing for your affairs to be in order should you pass away or become incapacitated. The steps involved might look complicated, but it’s easier when you know a few do’s and don’ts to get started with.

Do Create a Living Will

Estate planning focuses a lot on what happens to your possessions and wealth after you pass away, but you also need to create a living will in addition to your last will and testament. Also known as an advance or healthcare directive, this dictates how you get medical treatment if you can’t make such decisions for yourself. This might involve designating someone to make choices for you in the event of incapacitation.

Don’t Forget Your Pets

Any four-legged, furry, or feathered friends in your home might be family members, but that’s only true in your heart. In the eyes of the law, they’re personal property. You need to designate who will care for them after they’re gone, and they might need a separate pet trust with distinct instructions and funds.

Do Find an Attorney

The estate planning process might involve a few financial decisions, but it’s not like mapping out your retirement savings or choosing investment options. You need an estate attorney who can help you handle the complexities and legal intricacies that might apply to your state. The last thing you want is to create a document that isn’t legally enforceable or gets voided due to technical mistakes.

Don’t Procrastinate

You might think the end of your life is a long way off, and hopefully, it is. However, an accident that incapacitates you might not be. Tackle estate planning now so things are for any possibility.

Do Choose Someone To Be in Charge

Your estate planning might include designating an executor or someone with a durable power of attorney. An executor distributes your estate per your will’s instructions, and someone with a durable power of attorney can make decisions for you if you’re incapacitated. Pick people you trust and can do the job, but also make sure they know they’re selected and are willing to take on the roles.

Don’t Assume You’re Finished

Just setting up your estate planning is only the start. A finished and signed document is excellent, but it’s also a living thing that needs to be updated as your life changes. Acquiring property, changes in income levels, downsizing, empty nesting, divorce, marriage, deaths, and births are all lifestyle and family status changes that mean you should revisit your estate planning. See if it needs updating, and then make alterations accordingly.

Is Estate Planning Necessary?

Even if you don’t have many things to pass on, estate planning is crucial to making things easier for your loved ones in times that will be hard for them. The benefit for you now is the peace of mind of knowing your matters will be attended to in alignment with your values and stated instructions. Follow these do’s and don’ts to get started in the right direction.