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List of Estate Planning Basics

April 13, 2021

Although sometimes tempting to put off, estate planning is important and should be done sooner than later to protect your family. There are several unique aspects to an estate plan. Here are some areas to accomplish in an estate plan:

  • Make a will. A will should detail your wishes for your estate. You can designate how you would like property to be conveyed and who will control the distribution. You probably have a vision for your assets after you pass and a will can help you achieve your goals.

  • Create a trust. If you hold property in a living trust, your survivors will not have to undergo the probate process.

  • Make health care directives. Health care directives include a “living will” and a power of attorney for health care. This gives someone of your choice the ability to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so.

  • Prepare a financial power of attorney. With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can choose who will handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs.

  • Protect your children’s property. You should name an adult to manage money and property that your minor children will inherit from you. Minor children can not inherit outright but can inherit through guardians and trustees.

  • File beneficiary forms. Naming a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans makes the account automatically “payable on death” to your beneficiary and allows the funds to avoid the probate process.

  • Consider life insurance. If you have young children, own a house or if you owe estate tax when you die, life insurance may be appropriate. This will alleviate family members from having to cover large expenses themselves.

  • Consider and plan for estate taxes. For deaths in 2016, the federal government will impose estate tax if your taxable estate is worth more than $5.45 million.

  • Cover funeral expenses. You can set up a prepaid funeral plan or payable-on-death account and deposit funds into it to pay for a funeral and related expenses. This will alleviate the need for family members to have to pay these expenses themselves.

  • Make final arrangements. Let your executor know your wishes regarding organ and body donation and disposition of your body as well as other matters. You can do this formally in a written letter to your executor.

  • Protect your business. You should have a succession plan for your business.

  • Store your documents pertaining to all above.

Juan C. Velasco, Esq. is a trusted attorney who has been serving the New Jersey area for over 25 years. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel, please contact Velasco Law Office and we will be happy to assist you.