Estate planning is more than just drawing up a will or establishing a trust. There are several parts to the whole, and you should view them separately as well as together.
The good news is that your estate plan will be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Here are four things to think about as you prepare for your initial meeting:
1. Powers of attorney
Remember that your estate plan can include a medical power of attorney. Think about whom you would want to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and cannot make those decisions yourself. Do the same with a financial power of attorney and name someone you trust to manage your financial affairs.
2. Guardianship matters
Here is another important decision: Naming the people whom would raise your children if you and your spouse were to die in an accident. You will also want to provide instructions as to when and how your children should inherit any money or insurance proceeds you leave to them. You may want to consider creating a trust for this purpose.
3. Planning for taxes
After you die, your heirs will have to file your final tax return. Be sure they know where to find the information they are going to need. If you have significant assets, you will want to rely on professional help to minimize both state and federal estate taxes.
4. Succession planning
If you are a business owner, what will happen to your company when you pass? This will be an interesting topic for your estate planning meeting. You may have co-owners to whom you want to transfer your share of the business. On the other hand, you may want to pass the business along to family members, and if so, there are options to consider. For example, a grantor retained annuity trust could be just what you need.
Your net worth may be modest, or you may be very wealthy. Either way, there are many options to consider in terms of managing your own future and providing for your loved ones. Your circumstances are unique, and your estate plan will reflect your individual requirements and preferences.