What is Estate Planning?
Life is unpredictable. The only certainty in life is Death. You work hard all your life just to give a better future to your family. Have you ever thought about what would happen if you die suddenly without any future planning of your asset management? That’s what estate planning is. It is a dynamic process of anticipating the distribution of a person’s belongings after the death of the person.
Planning for managing your estate, keeping in view your own demise, might be stressful and challenging. But you should be prepared for the inevitable circumstances and start thinking about it to avoid any legal and financial grief to your loved ones.
Who needs an Estate plan?
Almost every person has some tangible or intangible assets which need to be distributed among the family and relatives as per their wish in order to avoid family disagreements, probates, delays, etc.
There are a number of important legal documents which you should have for Estate planning. Let’s have a look.
Estate Planning Documents Checklist :
Documents needed for Estate Planning:
1. Make an inventory of your belongings
To begin with, look around yourself. There are plenty of valuable things which need to be distributed among your loved ones after you die. Make a list of all those assets like:
- Property you own
- Bank accounts
- Life insurances
2. Create Last Will and Testament
By creating a will you ensure that certain assets and the properties you own are inherited by your family, friends, or even non-profits after you die. Will come into effect only after the death of the person who made it. You can also name a person to act as an executor for your will to carry out all your wishes. The subject matter of will can be both – tangible and intangible assets.
Guardian of your minor children
Parents are the natural guardian of a minor. However, the last surviving parent can appoint a guardian in their last will for their minors, known as “Testamentary Guardian”. Testamentary Guardian is a person who has the same powers and responsibilities as you have concerning all the basic needs of your child. This includes food, shelter, education and medical care. Guardianship of a minor terminates when the minor attains the age of 18 years.
In the absence of a Guardianship clause in your will, the courts can also appoint a guardian for your minors.
PRO TIP - DO NOT FORGET ABOUT YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS.
You can name a “Digital fiduciary” (just like executors or attorneys in fact) to your Estate plan who will have the access to your digital assets including login Ids, emails, and passwords. It is not always necessary to designate a digital fiduciary. If you want privacy, and don't want someone to access your digital accounts, you can skip this process.
3. Revocable living trust
You can create a living trust where you place your assets into a private trust which is fully controlled by you. During your lifetime, all the income earned by the trust will be yours and are transferred to the beneficiaries of the trust upon your death. Revocable living trusts have flexibility ; its provisions can be altered or canceled by the owner anytime.
One of the main benefits of a living trust is that its assets don’t have to go through probate. Probate is a judicial procedure whereby the court determines the inheritors of the assets of a deceased person.
4. Beneficiary designations
There are certain assets that don’t need probate and are transferred directly to your beneficiary after you die. These are called non-probate assets and include:
- Insurance policies
PRO TIP - KEEP YOUR BENEFICIARIES UP TO DATE.
Beneficiary designations override what is written in your will. So it is important to keep them updated.
5. Advance Healthcare Directives
Also known as Living Will. In case you become temporarily ill or injured and unable to communicate your wish, Advance Healthcare Directives helps you determine what decisions should be taken with respect to your medical health. These preferences can be regarding medication, treatment options, surgical procedures, end-of-life care, and more.
A medical power of attorney is also a part of your AHCD document where you choose your healthcare agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are not able to make it by reason of illness or unconsciousness.
6. Financial power of attorney (POA)
It is a legal document that gives a trusted agent the authority to act on behalf of someone else in financial matters. The powers of the agent may be absolute or restricted to some specific decisions depending upon the will of the person who gave the authority.
POAs are issued mostly when a person is not able to sign important papers by reason of illness, disability, etc.
7. Proof of Identity and Relationship documents
Gather all your identity proof and relationship documents at one place and make it easier for your executor to find. These include :
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- Death certificate
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce certificates
- Prenuptial agreements
- Divorce settlements
- Armed Forces discharge papers
8. Titles and Property Deeds
Make sure you have all the title and deed documents of the property you hold. Also, provide a guide to your executors about their locations in order to avoid confusion and hassle. This may include your home, bank accounts, real estate properties, etc. Always be careful about what is written in your title and deed documents because whatever is written in the title document overrides the Will you make. You cannot transfer any of your assets to a person by way of will if the title document has the name of any other person on it.
PRO TIP - DISCUSS WITH YOUR HEIRS.
It is very important to educate your heirs about your estate planning and make them aware of the strategies you have adopted. They might get confused and feel burdened while handling sudden wealth after your death. You need to prepare them for the upcoming circumstances and protect them from frauds and scams.
9. Funeral instructions and wishes
Write down your funeral wishes in a document separate from your Will or trust. This may include :
- Whether you want a funeral service or not?
- Where do you want to be cremated?
- Where would you like your ashes to be disposed of or stored?
This document of your funeral wishes need not be recorded or notarized but it is very important to inform your loved ones that you have created some funeral instructions and where they are stored. By doing this, you can ease their burden for making those difficult decisions.
Now since you have all the relevant documents, what should be your next step? Keep all of them in a safe space and give copies to the Power of Attorneys, and healthcare agents, and inform your family members also or else they will never be able to find out about your Estate plan.
Hassle-Free Process of estate planning With TrulyWill’s Assistance
Estate Planning is important but everyone waits to get it done after retirement or sometimes people ignore it completely as it is considered to be overwhelming, time-taking and expensive.
Drafting an estate plan on your own is difficult as you do not know what has to be included in it. It goes through a long process.
- Hire an attorney.
- Book several appointments.
- Running to different Government offices.
- Paying Hourly Fees.
So, what to do next? How to avoid the above mentioned procedure and get your Estate plan at the comfort of your home which is 100% Legal?
DO NOT WORRY. You have come to the right place.
TrulyWill offers comprehensive, state-specific, and legally valid estate plans. You can now make an estate plan in less than 20 mins. With a team of experienced attorneys with years of experience in Estate Planning, Probate and Family Law matters make us a trusted platform to help you create your estate plan.
- NO CARD DETAILS REQUIRED
- NO HIDDEN CHARGES
All you need to do is; follow these 3 simple steps and get your Last Will or other documents made as per your requirement. :
- Sign Up.
- Answer a few simple questions.
- Your documents are ready to download.
I have a Complex Financial and Personal Life. What should I do?
TrulyWill provides On-Demand Service for your Unique and Personalized requirements. We have a team of Leading lawyers with years of experience in this dynamic subject matter. Connect to one of our attorneys now to get your comprehensive Estate plan.
You also have the option to get Unlimited Online Professional Support. You can connect with our support team via Zoom, Email, or Chat to guide you in the process of making your documents on the platform if you need help.