Becoming a Client of Family Estate Planning Law Group
The Definition of Estate Planning
Here is a definition of estate planning you can use as a guide when thinking about estate planning for you and your family:
“I want to control my property while I am alive and well, plan for myself and my loved ones if I become disabled, and then give what I have to whom I want, when I want, the way that I want, all at the lowest cost possible to me and to those I love.”
Estate planning, in most cases, starts with you taking control over your assets and well-being. Control often rests with the courts or the various institutions that set arbitrary rules regarding your assets and what can be done with them. Think about who you would want to take care of you and your loved ones if you were disabled. Who would you want to manage your assets and make decisions regarding your property if you were not able to do so? How would they go about gathering your information and documentation verifying what you own? And would the banks, financial institutions, and government agencies speak with them without first being appointed by the court?
Next, look at the assets you own. Assets could be your home, bank accounts, investments, investment real estate, IRAs, 401(k)s, or an LLC. Make a list of the property you own. This should include life insurance policies and any retirement accounts or pensions you own or will receive. You may want to organize your assets according to their type: bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stock, bonds, real estate, IRAs or 401(k)s, etc. List the value of these assets, paying close attention to how the asset is owned or who the beneficiary is who will receive the asset upon your death. Begin gathering documents that show what you own: deeds, bank statements, investment account statements, tax returns, etc.
If you do not do this now, who would be left to organize this information and paperwork? How difficult would that task be?
The cost to you and your family in the estate planning process is not simply the amount of money paid to an attorney, executors, or the government. Arguments, fragmented relationships, lawsuits, assets going to young or irresponsible beneficiaries, or a special needs child losing government benefits can result from a lack of planning.
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the planning process. They are much more important than the "treasure hunt" for legal documents at this stage.
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