No one likes to think about their own mortality and therefore many people do not make plans on how they want their estate to be distributed leaving their families and the courts to figure it out. 

An estate plan allows you to decide exactly who will benefit from your estate, and how they will benefit. It creates a road map with instructions, for how to protect your estate without spending a fortune.  

In this series of blog posts, we will cover the basics of estate planning: what is it, why do you need one, and how can you make sure your estate plan is legal and effective without spending a fortune on legal fees. 

What is an Estate Plan? 

An estate plan is a series of documents that direct how your estate should be distributed upon your death. Estate planning is not “one size fits all”, the type of estate planning documents you need depends on your assets, your heirs, and your wishes.

Estate plans can be changed during your lifetime and should be re-evaluated and adjusted as your circumstances change. Estate plans can range from a simple one page will to multiple complex trusts. 

Below are some brief descriptions of the types of documents that can be included in your estate plan, we will be discussing these in more detail in future blog posts, so be on the lookout!

Will: A document in which you can express your wishes as to how your property is to be distributed. In a Will you nominate a person, the Executor, to manage your estate until the distribution is final.  To distribute an estate through a will, the will must be authenticated by the Court first. Then the named executor will work with the court to ensure that the assets are distributed. 

Trust: Similar to a will, this document allows you to express how your estate is to be distributed, however it does not have to go through probate.  There many different types of trusts, the type of trust you need is determined by the assets you are wanting to distribute, who you want to distribute the assets to, and how you want them distributed. 

Power of Attorney: unlike the above the documents, a Power of Attorney is effective while you are alive. A Power of Attorney authorizes a person of your choosing to act on your behalf. There are different types of Power of Attorney including medical, financial and general.

So why do you need an estate plan? 

Most people want to be able to decide, or have some control over, how their estate is distributed after their death. You know your estate and your heirs better than anyone, and that means you are in the best position to make reasonable decisions about these matters. An estate plan brings peace of mind to you, and also your loved ones.

By doing the work for them, your loved ones do not have to figure out how to distribute your estate, hopefully reducing stress and unnecessary drama. A comprehensive estate plan can also reduce estate and inheritance taxes, protect your assets, and avoid unnecessary court cases, expenses and costs.  

Most of us don’t want to think about our own mortality and what effect our death will have on loved ones. But avoiding the subject can cause them more stress during a very difficult time. By planning ahead and continuing to adjust your estate plan as needed, you’ll know your loved ones will be able to enjoy the legacy you choose to leave them. 

Here’s A Tip From Time Magazine

Here’s another good idea, from Time Magazine, titled “Why You Need To Make A When-I-Die File Before It’s Too Late.

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