What is Estate Planning?
Believe it or not, everyone has an estate. Your estate is comprised of everything you own, including your home, car, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and other personal possessions. No matter how large or small, everyone has an estate and something else in common- you can’t take it with you when you die.
When that happens, you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide legal instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. That is estate planning—making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. Good estate planning is much more than that.
Key things to remember:
Estate planning is for everyone.
Too many people don’t plan.
If you don’t have an estate plan, the state has one for you and you probably won’t like it.
An estate plan begins with a will or living trust.
Planning your estate will help you to organize records and correct titles and beneficiary designations.
Estate planning does not have to be expensive.
The best time to plan your estate is now.
The best benefit is peace of mind.
Things to you may need to gather:
A detailed record of all assets
Bank accounts, insurance policies and other financial details
Family and legal contacts
Memorial arrangements and who should be notified
Current desires for distribution of property
Key Points to Consider and Steps for Preparation:
- Draft your Will – Take Inventory of your assets and pick your team
- List your beneficiaries – Who do you want to inherit your assets
- Name an Executor – Who will be Executing your will
- Assign Power of Attorney – Who will handle your affairs if you are incapacitated
- Create A Living Will – Your wishes as a potential patient – DNR, Organ Donor, treatment scenarios, etc.
- Assign Healthcare Power of Attorney – Who will be making medical decisions for you if you are unable – Have a HIPAA release or two so your family can be told of your health
- Choose Guardians – Who will be Guardians for your children if you are both incapacitated
- Update Your Will – At every life change or every 5 years
- Decide if your estate needs a Trust.
- Tax planning for your estate – some assets have larger tax implications than others. Donating taxable items to charities and non-taxable to heirs can make sense.
Hire the right lawyer to walk you through these steps. You may need all of these steps or just a few. Your lawyer or financial advisor needs to work with you on a plan. We can merely point out the importance and options of preparing your estate plan. You and your trusted advisor will need to configure your plan to your specific situation, goals and needs.
The First Church in Sterling community wants to make sure that everyone has made plans for the future of their estates and also consider First Church In Sterling integral to that planning.