An estate plan is more than a list of assets and who gets them when you die. And if you’re thinking, “I already set up my estate plan because I have a will,” or, “my stuff is pretty straight forward because I just want everything to go to my kids,” then please keep reading. Making sure your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them to be when you need it most can be more complicated than you think.
Here are five ways we help guide you that you may not be aware of:
1. Customize your will or trust — without messing it up. Sure, you can go to Legal Zoom and fill in the blanks, but there are two problems with that:
- Most of us do not fit neatly into a generic, mass-produced template. One of our mantras is “every estate plan is like a snowflake or a finger print; every family’s needs and wishes are different.”
- If you need to alter any provision and do it yourself, you run the risk of invalidating the entire plan.
2. Avoid probate and estate taxes. There are templates available for trusts but if it isn’t prepared correctly, all your planning can go out the window. And beware: a Will does NOT protect your family from probate.
3. Know what legal tools are right for you. There are a TON of tools available to create an estate plan perfect for you and your family. Being aware of all of your options, knowing how they interact, and knowing how to build the right estate plan with the right pieces is an art which we, as attorneys and paralegals who have specialized in this profession most of our careers, have to continue educating ourselves on daily.
4. Let you know when to update your estate plan. Yesterday’s estate plan, no matter how good, may not work as well today. A change in your family, your needs and wishes, assets, location or even the law (just to name a few) may require changes to your plan. Since the last thing you’re thinking about when you have a baby or move is rewriting your estate plan, we will be there to advise you so needed changes are not overlooked.
5. Keep up with the latest laws as the time change. Estate planning laws are constantly changing and new tools become available from time to time. We know the newest rules and tools and if they are appropriate for your estate plan. As we learn, we keep you informed. As an example, the right of a personal representative or administrator to control social networking, blogs or email accounts of the deceased.
If you need professional help with your estate plan, we can ensure your wishes are honored, both in life and in death.
Parman & Easterday