How to Make an Estate Plan in Case the Worst Happens

how to make an estate plan in case the worst happens

Estate Planning Saves Time

Planning for the future can be complicated and intimidating. However, it is something that everyone should do. Even if you’re still young or feel like you don’t have much to leave behind, it is essential to create a good estate plan with the help of a credible California estate planning attorney to ensure a smooth transition of your wealth and possessions.

Estate planning involves a collection of legally binding documents that give you control over what will happen to your assets and your loved ones in the event of your disability or death. It includes wills, trusts, power of attorney forms, and more. When done correctly, estate planning minimizes legal fees, taxes, and interference by the state. A comprehensive estate plan can give you peace of mind, knowing that you are as prepared as possible for life’s unexpected twists and turns.

This article can give you an overview of creating an estate plan.

  • Write a Will
  • Consider a Trust
  • Establish an Advance Health Care Directive
  • Make a Power of Attorney
  • Protect Your Children’s Property
  • File Beneficiary Forms
  • Consider a Life Insurance Policy
  • Protect Your Business
  • Make Final Arrangements
  • Your Estate Plan Documents in a Safe Place

Write a Will

Generally, creating a last will is the first step in the estate planning process. A will is a legal document that states the preferences and instructions for distributing your money and assets after death. These include items as varied as houses, cars, family heirlooms, and real estate properties. In the United States, the requirements for writing a valid will may differ from state to state, and you should consult with a knowledgeable Auburn estate planning lawyer to ensure yours is legally binding.

A person writes a will while living; the instructions are only carried out once the individual dies. If you die without a will, you will die intestate. Intestate means the government will distribute your assets according to your state’s intestacy law, which may not be how you would have liked the process, leading to a long and stressful court process for your loved ones. You can prevent this by having estate planning documents drafted that reflect your wishes.

You can also use a will to:

  • appoint an executor
  • decide how debts and taxes will be paid
  • name guardians for children and their property
  • serve as a backup to a living trust
  • provide for pets

Consider a Trust

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. If you keep your property in a living trust, your beneficiaries won’t have to go through the probate court process, saving time and fees and potentially reducing estate taxes.
This estate planning tool can be handy for adults wanting to pass assets to children under 18. Minors generally cannot own assets like real estate. However, any relevant property must be held by an adult or third-party institution until they can legally inherit it.

Establish an Advance Health Care Directive

A healthcare directive includes a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. While a living will states your medical preferences, health care power of attorney forms grant permission for someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. It gives instructions on how you want to be medically treated if you cannot speak for yourself during a life-threatening emergency and other severe medical scenarios. It generally advises your authorized individual as to whether you want to extend your life in any manner possible or how you would like to determine when they should stop medical treatment.

Make a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) grants another person, such as your spouse, adult child, or parent, the authority to make general, medical, or financial decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. Several types of POA exist, and each serves a different purpose. The differences also extend to when you want the POA to take effect.

The type of POA you create dictates which affairs you are granting power over. The decision-making power of an attorney-in-fact takes effect at different times depending on which POA you choose. Each type of POA has its benefits, so it’s essential to consult a skilled Auburn estate planning lawyer who can help you determine the appropriate kind of POA based on your specific estate planning needs. Here are some of the common types of POA:

  • General POA
  • Durable/Non-Durable POA
  • Limited POA
  • Specific POAs (Medical, Financial, or Military)

Protect Your Children’s Property

If you have minor children, you can use your will to name a guardian for them in the event of your death. In addition, they would also need someone to handle money, assets, and properties they may inherit from you. It would be best to choose someone responsible for managing their inheritance until they come of legal age.

File Beneficiary Forms

In estate planning, it is essential to ensure that all of the beneficiaries you name in your will, trust, or life insurance policy are correct and up to date. Naming a beneficiary for retirement plans and bank accounts makes the account automatically payable on death and allows the funds to skip the probate process.

Consider a Life Insurance Policy

Suppose you’re a homeowner or a parent of minor children. In that case, you should consider having a life insurance policy which can also be helpful if you anticipate your estate having to pay a large debt or estate taxes.

Protect Your Business

An estate plan empowers you to choose what will happen when you can no longer run your business. If you’re the sole owner of a business, it is crucial to have a succession plan. On the other hand, if you own it with other people, you should have a buyout agreement. A reliable Auburn estate planning attorney can advise you on the most effective estate planning strategies depending on your case.

Make Final Arrangements

When someone dies, the funeral is one of the most significant expenses. One way to keep the costs minimal for your loved one is to arrange for yours ahead of time. As an alternative to a funeral prepayment plan, you can set up a payable-on-death account at your bank and deposit funds into it to pay for your funeral-related expenses. You may also include your preferences for the disposition of the body and organ donation.

Store Your Estate Plan Documents in a Safe Place

Make sure that your documents are stored in a safe place. Your attorney-in-fact and your executor must know where to find them.

Learn How to Make an Estate Plan with an Experienced Auburn Estate Planning Lawyer!

A well-rounded estate plan is one of the best things you can have for yourself and your family. Planning helps ensure your assets are distributed how you want them to be. Knowing everything is in order, an estate plan can give you peace of mind.

Estate planning can be complicated. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal advice from our seasoned Auburn estate planning lawyers at Bottomline Lawyers, who can help you navigate the complex areas of estate planning. Our estate planning law firm delivers comprehensive estate planning services, offering clients legal assistance in drafting wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, and advanced health care directives. We take pride in utilizing our unique talents and extensive law knowledge to deal with various estate planning matters. We can ensure that the estate of our client is fully protected. Contact us now and schedule a free initial consultation!

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