Before seeing an attorney an estate plan, it may be important to sit down and think about some major issues that will need to be discussed with your attorney when you begin to craft an estate plan. Generally, an estate plan will consist of a will, a revocable living trust, a durable power of attorney, and an Advanced Healthcare Directive; however, the contents of those documents will vary depending on your wishes, goals, and concerns. Therefore, even before the documents get drafted it is important to think about these topics:
Gather Information Related to Assets and Liabilities
Gathering documents related to your assets and liabilities will greatly assist an attorney in determining the total value of your estate. Further, you will want to be able to determine what assets you are leaving to beneficiaries or heirs. Often times, after a death, heirs are left not knowing what property the deceased had. Assets include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, vehicles, and other personal property. In order for a revocable living trust to be most effective, it must own the property, so it is important to know how assets are titled. Any errors in title can be fixed early rather than later. In addition, it is important to know about liabilities because bills will still need to be paid after your death, so it is vital for heirs to know what bills to pay.
Determine Who Will Get Your Assets
It is also important to think about who will be your heirs in a will and beneficiaries in a revocable living trust. You should also think about if you intend to disinherit any close relatives. If there are any particular requests you would want to make to certain people, you should think about writing them into the will or revocable living trust.
Select an Executor and Trustee
Selecting an executor (for a will) and a trustee (for a trust) is an important decision. You should choose someone who would take the job seriously and carry out your wishes that you wrote in your will and revocable living trust. When drafting a Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive, you should also think about who will carry out your healthcare and financial decisions while you are alive. It is also important to consider a back up executor and trustee in the situation where your original choice is unable to do it.
Find an Estate Planning Attorney
An estate planning attorney can greatly aid in drafting an estate plan for you in the manner you want. An estate planning attorney will explain the process and can be an advisor throughout the process. Please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio if you would like to get your estate plan started at (818) 839-5220.