An estate plan is a set of legal documents that spell out how you want all of your assets to be distributed after you die or in the event, you become incapacitated. An estate plan may include a living will, a durable power of attorney, a beneficiary designation form, a revocable living trust, and/or advanced directives. These documents give instructions to others regarding your medical decisions, financial affairs, and personal matters. They also provide guidance to your heirs and beneficiaries.
While you can DIY your estate planning using services like LegalZoom, if you have a lot of assets, children, or want to give items to non-family members, it is best to work with an estate planning attorney.
Why is it important?
While no one really wants to think about what will happen to their loved ones and assets after they pass away, having a will is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, including:
- Ensure your family doesn’t lose their rights to certain items such as your home, car, bank accounts, retirement savings, life insurance policies, and even your burial plot.
- Avoid costly probate processes that might take a large amount of whatever you have left after you die instead of it going to your family.
- Plan now to save your family thousands of dollars in the future.
- Keep your money and assets from being seized by the state or locked for years in court.
When should you begin estate planning?
Depending on the complexity of your situation, it takes anywhere from a few hours to several months to complete your estate plan depending on the complexity of your situation.