Although most Americans admit to knowing the importance of inheritance planning, over half do not have a plan in place. If you are among those who have yet to get started on a plan, it may help motivate you to learn more about inheritance planning. Toward that end, an Oklahoma City inheritance planning attorney at Parman & Easterday explains some inheritance planning basics.
- DIY planning does more harm than good. In the 21st century, it is tempting to try to save time and money by searching for and downloading inheritance planning “DIY” forms. Resist this temptation! The time and money you think you are saving will almost always end up costing your loved ones considerably more time and money down the road when the mistakes or ambiguities in your documents end up in litigation. Instead of taking this risk, consult with an experienced inheritance planning attorney to ensure that your plan is correct and complete.
- Defining your needs and goals helps create a successful plan. Take time to consider what you need to accomplish and what you want to include in your estate plan. People typically focus on the distribution of their estate assets when they think about inheritance planning. While this is one aspect of an inheritance plan, a comprehensive plan can accomplish much more than that. For example, if you don’t want your loved ones to have to deal with a lengthy probate of your estate, you could include probate avoidance as an inheritance planning goal. If you have minor children, protecting their inheritance until they reach the age of majority or even later should be an important part of your plan. Finally, if the manner in which your body is handled after you are gone is important to you, make sure you address funeral and burial planning within your overall plan.
- Making detailed lists of assets and liabilities helps you stay focused. You probably have some idea of your net worth at any given time, but for estate planning, you need a detailed list of assets and debts. You should include identifying information on your lists, such as account numbers, passwords, or locations of assets so this information can be included with your estate planning documents, When the time comes, it will make your Executor’s job much easier.
- Incapacity planning should be part of your overall plan. One component that should be included in all inheritance plans is incapacity planning. The inheritance you hope to pass down to loved ones must actually make it to the next generation. If you become incapacitated, this could become a problem. Incapacity can strike anyone at any time as the result of a tragic accident or debilitating illness. If you are the victim of incapacity, who will take control of your assets? Who will make personal and healthcare decisions for you? If you don’t decide within your estate plan, a judge may decide for you.
- Choosing the right fiduciaries is crucial. One common – and damaging – mistake people make when creating an inheritance plan is failing to take the time necessary to choose the right person for the various fiduciary roles within the plan. If you create a trust, don’t just appoint a spouse or friend as the Trustee because you “trust” them. The role of Trustee is a complex one that requires a degree of financial and legal knowledge and experience to perform well. Appointing the right person will contribute to the success of your overall plan. Appointing the wrong person could contribute to the failure of your plan.
Contact an Oklahoma City Inheritance Planning Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have questions or concerns about inheritance planning, or you are ready to get started creating your plan, contact an experienced Oklahoma City inheritance planning attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.
Whether or not you share the details of your inheritance plan is a highly personal decision that only you can make. Failing to share the details with beneficiaries and heirs, however, can increase the likelihood of litigation.
If you choose to keep your plan private, you may wish to consider using a trust. While the details of your Will become a matter of public record when the Will is probated, a trust does not go through probate.
You should not wait until you have amassed a fortune to begin your inheritance plan. In fact, every adult can benefit from having at least a basic plan in place.