Estate planning is often frightening and overwhelming. In fact, only four in ten Americans have a will or trust. That means a whopping 60% of all Americans have no estate plan at all.
Luckily, getting started with estate planning does not have to be an incomprehensible challenge. It is much easier than most people realize.
We have created a five-step guide on how to begin planning your estate today. Read on and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question or would like more information.
Inventory Your Assets
The first area you want to focus on when getting started with estate planning is your assets. These can be cash, real assets (property), investments (stocks, bonds), businesses (any ventures you have started), intellectual property (patents or copyrights), and more.
After you have made a list of your personal assets, it is smart to check with your partner about their assets and your joint assets. These can be shared checking accounts, money market accounts, and investments.
Organize Your Financial Information
In addition to creating an inventory of your belongings, you will want to organize all information relating to these assets. This is your financial information.
Some of this information is common sense – bank account numbers, routing numbers, logins for online banking, etc. – but some are harder to pin down. Think documents like deeds to both property and trusts, warrants to purchase shares of stock, copies of patents, and more.
You may also want to fill out financial information release forms for your estate. You can fill these out for your significant other, children, grandchildren, or anyone else who may need access to your financial information to carry out your wishes.
Appoint an Executor or Trustee
Speaking of carrying out your wishes, it is important to appoint an executor to your will or a trustee to your trust to make sure your estate is distributed the way you want it to be.
Before we go any further, it is helpful to define just what a will and trust are. A will is a legal document that states your final wishes. A trust in Florida is a fiduciary agreement that lets a third party hold assets on your behalf.
The executor of your will is the individual or entity responsible for carrying out your will. The trustee of your trust is the individual or entity responsible for making sure your affairs are handled correctly. Appointing the appropriate party to be your executor or trustee goes a long way towards proper estate planning.
Create an Inheritance List
This step may seem like common sense, but bears examining a bit further. Ask yourself: who do I want to inherit my assets, when do I want them to inherit them, and how do I want them to inherit them?
The who is simple enough, but the when and how are where things get complicated.
Perhaps you have one child you would like to receive their inheritance right away and another you would like to have received a monthly trust fund. Perhaps you have a business partner you would like to receive equity in a company immediately and a personal partner you would like to receive stock in that same company right away.
It only becomes more complicated from there. Perhaps it is time to consult an attorney.
Consult an Attorney
One of the simplest ways to get started with estate planning is to consult an attorney. They can offer invaluable insight and legal expertise into how you should plan your estate, how you should distribute your estate, and the best inheritance schedule for all parties involved.
This is where our team of expert attorneys shine. The Berman Law Group has decades of collective experience with everything from wills and trusts to family and elder law and can help you get started with estate planning today. Call us today for a free consultation. If you have any questions about wills in Florida, check out our service page.