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Do’s & Don’ts of Estate Planning

by | Sep 15, 2022 | estate planning, legacy planning

Estate planning is an essential part of life, but many individuals are intimidated by the process. While the estate planning process can be tedious and complex, it does not have to be challenging. Taking action to make sure your affairs are in order before your passing does not always have to be a headache. These tips will help you along with the process. 

What Does an Estate Plan Do?

Estate planning is the entire process of deciding who will receive your assets and also who will handle your estate upon your incapacity or death. The proper execution of an estate plan is essential for ensuring that your final wishes are carried out just as you want. If you become incapacitated or pass away and do not have a designated estate plan, the state that you live in will decide where your assets go. While many people are under the assumption that only older people need to create an estate plan, younger people can benefit from one as well. This is because nobody is immune to serious illness or death. It is a responsible decision to make for someone of any age. 

Do Your Research

If you have begun your estate planning research, you may have already encountered some new terminology. While the terminology surrounding estate planning can be confusing, it is necessary that you understand what these different terms mean. An estate planning attorney can help to explain to you anything that you do not understand. A common misconception is that a last will and living will are the same things, when in fact, they are very different. A last will and testament helps to designate where you would like your estate and assets to go after your passing. A living will helps to specify what medical care you would like to receive in the event that you cannot communicate those wishes at that time. 

Do Consider Updating Your Estate Plan Regularly 

Situations change and life happens. When key life events, such as a divorce or marriage occur, you may want to consider updating your estate plan to reflect your current wishes. Looking over your estate plan annually is a good timeline for review or when a major life event occurs. There is no limit to how many times you can update and change your estate plan. However, doing so under the advice of a professional estate planning attorney is always recommended. This is so you can ensure that your executor would be able to properly carry out your wishes while following state and federal laws. 

Do Create a Last Will

While there are many important estate planning documents to create and file, one of the most important is a will. A will designates your final wishes, including funeral services, beneficiaries, and assets. If you do not draw up a will, it will be up to the court to distribute your assets. Think about where your property will go, pets, minor children, and assets in the event of your passing. When you create a will, you will want to name an executor or trustee. This person will be responsible for ensuring your final wishes are properly carried out. When you are creating your will, you will want to consider naming beneficiaries. If you designate beneficiaries, then you are ensuring that your assets and property will be distributed to these people or organizations. 

Do Plan for an Emergency

In the event of your incapacitation, you may not be able to communicate what type of medical care you would prefer or what will become of your finances. This is where a living will come in. A living will is different from a last will and testament. This is because a living will is intended to come into use while you are still alive, but you are unable to communicate or make decisions soundly on your own. The living will, also called an advance directive, will designate your wishes while you are alive. This might include what medical care you would prefer and who would be in charge of making financial decisions on your behalf. 

Do Seek Out The Advice of a Professional Estate Planning Attorney

Some people think that estate planning can be a DIY process. While you can take up estate planning on your own, it is not professionally recommended. This is because there are many different aspects that go into an estate plan. The terminology and processes can be complex, as well as confusing. Those who are creating an estate plan will also want to ensure that they are acting in their best interests, as well as following state and federal laws. 

Don’t Wait

Estate plans are beneficial to individuals, regardless of how old they are. If you happen to become incapacitated or pass away without having a proper estate plan in place, this could cause issues to arise. Your family might be faced with difficult decisions and conversations, on top of already dealing with the emotional turmoil of your passing. Instead, utilize an estate plan to cover your wishes. 

Don’t Think Estate Planning it is One and Done

Estate planning consists of many different documents that all accumulate together as your complete estate plan. Simply filling out one document and never giving your estate plan another thought is not the responsible thing to do. Instead, think of estate planning as fluid. It will grow and change with you, as you change and grow. Keeping your estate planning documents organized is essential during these times and you might find that consulting with an estate planning attorney helps you to stay on top of things. 

Schedule a Consultation with a Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning does not have to be a complicated process. Speaking with a professional attorney can help you evaluate your needs and assess where your property should go in the event of your passing. At Galanti & Copenhaver, we understand the intricacies that present themselves in the estate planning process. Our professional team is equipped to handle your needs. Give our team a call today to set up an initial consultation!