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What Is The Estate Planning Process?

An estate plan might initially seem like something that is strictly for the wealthy, but it can be useful for everyone. The reason is that an estate plan is a rock-solid way of deciding how to redistribute your assets after you have passed, or if you should become incapacitated to the point where you are unable to make any personal decisions.

An estate plan is the best way to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and that your assets are in good hands. So, Colorado residents should contact an estate attorney in Denver when they want to get their estate plan started.

Perform an Inventory Of Your Assets, Bills, and Debts

The first part of creating an estate plan is discovering your complete net worth. That means adding up all of your assets, which include all of the following:

  1. Real estate
  2. Bank accounts
  3. Investment accounts
  4. Personal property (vehicles, jewelry, etc.)
  5. Retirement plans
  6. Money owed to you

In addition to totalling all of your assets, you should also add up all of your liabilities as well. These include credit card debt, loans, and mortgages. You then subtract your liabilities from your assets to determine your complete net worth.

Assess Your Need For an Estate Plan

There are personal and financial reasons why you would want to have an estate plan in place. If you have children under the age of eighteen, then an estate plan will help them in the unfortunate event that they lose both parents. An estate plan allows you to appoint a guardian to take care of them in such an event. It also allows you to bequeath an inheritance to them so that they will be cared for.

You can also choose who you want to handle your assets in case you become incapacitated to the point where you cannot make any decisions for yourself. An estate plan also avoids the lengthy probate process, which is when the court determines the validity of a will. That way all of your assets will go to the people you want them to without any intrusion from a probate judge.

Hire a Qualified Estate Lawyer

Estate planning can be a complex process but a good estate attorney can make it a lot easier for you. They can guide you through each step of the process, give you good advice, and ensure that your last will and testament, or living trust, is carefully worded so as to avoid any ambiguity or confusion.

Decide If You Need a Will Or a Revocable Living Trust

We are all familiar with a will; it is a document that details what should become of a person’s possessions once they have passed on. A revocable living trust, usually just called a living trust, is a legal entity responsible for taking ownership of someone’s assets. That someone is called the trustee and they are typically the trustmaker as well. It is revocable because the trustee can undo the trust whenever they want.

Part of a living trust is determining who will be the beneficiaries of the person’s assets in the event of their passing. Another aspect of a living trust is creating a disability plan should the trustmaker become incapacitated so that they are incapable of managing the trust. In this case, a successor trustee is appointed to handle the trust. Once the trustmaker dies, the trust becomes irrevocable, their debts, taxes, and bills are paid, and the rest of their assets are distributed to whomever they named as their beneficiaries.

Choose How You Want Your Assets To Be Distributed

At this point, you want to select who will get which of your assets, and when they will receive them after your passing. You can choose to distribute them to family, friends, or charities.

Appoint Your Fiduciaries

Fiduciaries are the people in charge of deciding what happens to you and your property if you become incapacitated, and what happens to your property after your passing. They include your successor trustee, the executor of your will, and a legal guardian for your dependents. Make certain that your fiduciaries are responsible people who you trust unconditionally.

Start Creating An Estate Plan Today

An estate plan is the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed in the way that you want after your passing. It ensures that your loved ones are taken care of and that the assets they receive do not come with a huge tax burden. So contact an estate lawyer today and start creating an estate plan that will guarantee the wellbeing of those closest to you.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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