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4 important facts about estate planning

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Probate & Estate Planning

Importance of Estate Planning 

If you do not prepare a will or other estate planning documents, your property will transfer to your heirs at law; your surviving joint tenant(s) with regard to jointly titled property; and named beneficiaries on accounts which are held in your name with beneficiaries designated to be paid at the time of your death.  Probate of your estate will be required for property in your name solely, and for untitled property (such as personal belongings) to be transferred to your heirs. The court will appoint someone to administer your estate in the absence of a will in which you can designate your choice of fiduciary.  Your jointly owned property will pass by operation of law, and your beneficiary designated financial assets will pass to the designated beneficiaries without probate.

Estate planning and the creation of a will and other related documents where appropriate can assist you in:

  1. Identifying your assets, their value and how they are owned;
  2. Identifying your heirs and their needs and determining who you want to inherit your property (heirs and/or unrelated beneficiaries) and how much of your property you wish to leave to them, and assessing their ability to manage the assets left to them, and whether a trust is needed;
  3. Determining whether you have a taxable estate and, if so, whether you wish to take measures to minimize the tax;
  4. Identifying your debts and how they will be handled upon your death;
  5. Identifying someone you trust as Executor who will be responsible to ensure that your estate is properly administered;
  6. Considering whether you have or would be benefitted by obtaining life insurance, and in what amount and for what purpose.

Other Documents

Estate planning can also include preparation of health care documents, identifying someone to act on your behalf if you are or become unable to make health care decisions for yourself.  You can also identify the parameters within which you wish your health care agent to act, and set forth your directions to them regarding the use of life-saving measures in the event that you are dying.  This document is only to be used in the event that you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself.

Additionally, estate planning can include the creation of a Power of Attorney appointing someone to handle your financial and related matters on your behalf during your lifetime.

Your burial instructions can also be memorialized in a written document.

Seek legal assistance as you begin your estate planning.