Before you sit down to create your initial estate plan, it is always a good idea to learn more about the process by talking to an experienced estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney can also help explain the process and make you feel less intimidated. Before you even get to your scheduled initial consultation, however, there are things you can think about that will ultimately help your first discussion with your estate planning attorney to be more productive. The Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Parman & Easterday discuss five things to consider when creating your estate plan.
- 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 might, however, need to provide for a child with special needs as well or you may need to include business succession planning to ensure that your family business makes a successful transition to the next generation.
- Beneficiaries. 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?
- Fiduciaries. 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 taken into account 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.
- The Future. 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 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 Oklahoma City Estate Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, contact the experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 or 913-385-9400 to schedule your appointment today.
The simple answer is the earlier, the better. Every adult can benefit from having at least a simple estate plan in place.
One of the most common mistakes people make is relying on DIY Will forms they find on the internet. To ensure that your Will works as intended when the time comes, work with an experienced attorney.
Your estate plan should be individually tailored to your needs and goals. You might include additional components, such as business succession planning, pet planning, or special needs planning.