If you are new to the concept of estate planning, it can seem a bit intimidating given all the various goals and objectives that are frequently rolled into an estate plan. The good news is that working with an experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that your plan accomplishes all of those goals and objectives. Your estate planning attorney can also help explain the process and make you feel less intimidated. To get the most out of your initial estate planning consultation, the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law help you prepare.
Goals and Objectives
Naturally, the first things you need to focus on when creating an estate plan are your goals and objectives. While your estate plan will undoubtedly provide for the distribution of your estate assets after your death, it should also do much more than that. Exactly what else your estate plan accomplishes depends on your individual needs. Most people, for example, also include incapacity planning in their estate plan. You, however, may need to provide for a child with special needs or need to include business succession planning to ensure that your family business makes a successful transition to the next generation.
Deciding who your beneficiaries will be may be simple enough; however, you also need to decide what you want to leave behind for each beneficiary and how you want to leave that gift. Do you want to leave specific bequests or liquidate assets and gift the proceeds to beneficiaries? Do you plan to make direct gifts or do you want to retain a certain amount of control over the gifts you make, in which case a trust is a better option?
One of the most common mistakes people make when creating an estate plan is failing to put much thought into the fiduciary roles within their plan. Instead, people simply appoint a spouse, close friend, or family member to roles such as Executor or Trustee. The problem is that these roles often require at least a rudimentary knowledge of finance and legal topics to perform well. In addition, fiduciary roles often include numerous and varied duties and responsibilities that should be considered before appointing someone to the role. Before you sit down to create your plan, take the time you need to really think about who the best person for the job is.
Of course, your estate plan needs to protect you and your loved ones right now; however, do not make the mistake of failing to consider the future as well. A well-thought-out estate plan does both. Your retirement planning strategies, for example, should be taken into account within your broader estate plan. You also need to consider the likelihood that you, or a spouse, will eventually need long-term care (LTC) and how you will pay for the cost of that care. For most people, Medicaid planning is the best way to ensure that they can cover the high cost of LTC without putting their retirement nest egg at risk down the road.
Final Wishes and Plans
Many people have very specific wishes about end-of-life medical care. If you are one of them, you need to put those wishes in writing in the form of an advanced directive to ensure they are honored. In addition, you can name an Agent to make decisions for you if you cannot make them. You may also have specific wishes about your funeral and burial services, those can also be put down in writing to ensure that they are honored. Take some time to think about what is important to you and discuss it with your estate planning attorney.
Contact a Grand Forks Estate Planning Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your estate plan, contact a Grand Forks estate planning attorney at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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