Have you been putting off making an estate plan due to concerns that it will be really time-consuming and complicated? Sometimes, better understanding the functions of an estate plan can help those who are feeling overwhelmed at the thought to start digging in.
For example, detailing how assets will be distributed is what most people first think of when they talk about estate planning – how to pass everything to those they choose when they die. That could be loved ones, close friends, charities or a mixture of the three. The goal is to do so in a tax-efficient way that ensures the assets reach their intended beneficiaries quickly and without too many complications. If you fail to make an estate plan, a probate court will distribute your estate to your heirs – as defined by the state – according to the percentages set out in state law.
Protecting your interests, and (if applicable) your children’s
If you have minor children, someone will need to look after them if you die before they turn 18, which is when they can legally look after themselves. The term for this person is a guardian, and if you do not name one, a court will, so it’s best to choose one yourself. Make sure you get their agreeance before naming them.
Additionally, if something happens to you that renders you incapable of speaking and acting for yourself, someone will need to step up and do things such as sign documents and pay bills on your behalf. That person will be whoever you have given legal power of attorney to. If you don’t choose an agent, the state will dictate who gets to make decisions on your behalf.
There is help available if you are ready to learn more. Seeking legal guidance can help you to safeguard your interests in ways that minimize the sometimes overwhelming nature of the estate planning process.