Most people don’t feel the need to consult an estate planning guide until they are either significantly ill or until someone close to them has passed away without planning for their estate. As the best attorney in St. Petes, Weidner Law, often has to step in to help families when their loved ones pass away without planning properly for their estate and today we want to try and reduce the number of families left in this type of situation by doing a quick estate planning guide that you can reference.
Keep in mind, though, that much of your estate planning will require the knowledge and understanding of an estate planning attorney who can help you to pass on as much of your estate to your heirs as possible and who can help you to set up your family in the case of many non-fatal incidences that leave you incapacitated and unable to control your own estate.
Estate Planning Guide: What You Need to Know
What is Estate Planning?
The first and most important step in estate planning is understanding what the term “estate planning” actually means. If you’re like most people, when you think about the word “estate” you think of the wealthy – a five-car garage, a mansion with eighteen bedrooms, and acres and acres of land – but this isn’t an accurate definition. When we’re talking about estate planning, we are talking about planning for everything that you own and that doesn’t have to be a mansion.
Estate planning is the act of planning for what will happen to all of your assets, property, real estate, bank accounts, etc. if you are unable to manage those assets yourself due to death or disability.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
Estate planning is important because it ensures that certain assets are transferred to certain people or organizations when you are unable to manage them. Without having an estate plan in place, there is no way for your heirs, family members, or friends, to know what you would have wanted to be done with your assets and even if you have told them your wishes, there is no proof that what they say is the truth.
So, an estate plan is important because it allows you to control the management of your assets when you are no longer able to do so.
Is Estate Planning When You Don’t Own Much Necessary?
Estate planning isn’t just about delegating who gets what from your assets, it’s also about dictating your final wishes – having your last “say” as it were. It incorporates other aspects too like writing your living will and power of attorney – things that will influence your life should you become incapacitated but not pass away. For this reason, planning your estate is important even when you don’t own much!
Estate Planning Guide Step 1: Obtain Legal Counsel
One of the most important things you should do when planning your estate is to obtain reputable legal counsel. A good estate planning attorney will be able to help you to structure your legal documents properly, to ensure that your heirs pay as little tax as possible on your estate, and be sure that your estate plan is airtight so that after your passing or when you are incapacitated, no one can argue your wishes.
If you live in the St. Petes area, Weidner Law is happy to help with your estate planning needs!
Estate Planning Guide Step 2: Decide Who Gets What
The next step in planning your estate is to decide who gets what from your estate. Be sure to consider everything from property to bank accounts to retirement accounts to life insurance benefits. Be as meticulous as possible when accounting for your assets and be very clear if you have special wishes or sentimental possessions that should be passed on.
It’s good to have an estate planning attorney on your side for this step of estate planning because they can help you to word your wishes properly as well as help you to set up trusts that may be able to reduce the estate taxes your heirs must pay.
Estate Planning Guide Step 3: Write Your Last Will and Testament
Your last will and testament can be difficult to write, but it’s a key factor in estate planning and you must be sure to write it with the correct language and under the necessary legal guidelines for your state.
Estate Planning Guide Step 4: Your Living Trust
A living trust is another document that can help to delegate control of your assets, but it comes with certain benefits that are not equal to those in a last will and testament. You can read more about the benefits of a living trust in our post on living trusts.
Estate Planning Guide Step 5: Your Living Will
Once you have written your last will and testament and living trust, you will also need to write your living trust. This is an equally important document as your last will and testament because it outlines your wishes when you are unable to make important decisions for yourself. Again, it’s important to write this document in the correct format and using the right language, so you should always work with an attorney to get your living trust written.
Estate Planning Guide Step 6: Your Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that gives someone else the ability to make decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This is a crucial document and should be written under the guidance of an estate planning attorney because it affects every aspect of your life.
Ready to Hire a Reputable Estate in St. Petes?
If you’re ready to start planning your estate and you live in or around the St Petes area, Weidner Law can help! Just give us a call today to set up a consultation with attorney Weidner and we’ll get started with planning your estate right away! Just dial 727-954-8752!