Over half of all adults in the U.S. do not have an estate plan in place. One explanation for this phenomenon is that many people simply don’t know how to get started with estate planning. This is understandable: estate planning can seem like a daunting task. The reality, though, is that creating an estate plan can be easy—especially when you have an experienced estate planning lawyer in your corner. In this article, we examine 5 key steps in the estate planning process.
#1: Define Your Goals
As you begin to embark upon the estate planning process, take some time to consider what you need to accomplish and what you want to include in your estate plan. Most people tend to focus almost exclusively on the distribution of their estate assets when they begin estate planning. Although this is certainly important, a complete estate plan can accomplish much more than this. For example, if you have children under the age of 18, protecting their inheritance until they become legal adults should be an important part of your plan. In addition, you should consider who you’d like to handle your affairs if you ever become incapacitated.
#2: Assess Your Assets and Liabilities
You probably have a general idea of the value of the items you own. However, to create an effective estate plan, you must create a detailed list, including the current value, location, and identifying information of each asset. In addition, you should make a similar list for your liabilities.
#3: Identify Your Beneficiaries
Although the majority of your beneficiaries will be clear, such as your children, you should take the time during the estate planning process to try to identify beneficiaries who aren’t as obvious. For example, with an estate plan, you can leave assets to your best friend, your pet, your favorite nephew, a charity, or practically any other person or entity.
#4: Choose the Correct Fiduciaries
A huge mistake many people make when estate planning is failing to take the time needed to choose the right people for fiduciary roles within the plan. For example, if you create a trust, you must appoint a person or entity to serve as trustee. The role of trustee is complex and requires a high degree of legal and financial knowledge and experience to perform well. By appointing the right person to serve in this or other important fiduciary roles, you increase the odds that the administration of your estate will be a success.
#5: Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Finally, the most important step in the estate planning process is working with an experienced Florida and New York estate planning attorney. At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, attorney Angela Siegel uses her extensive estate planning knowledge and experience to provide exceptional estate planning services to residents of Florida and New York. When you come to us for assistance with your estate plan, Ms. Siegel will take the steps necessary to ensure that you and your family are protected for years to come. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.