How to Simplify Estate Planning
For most people, estate planning and preparation doesn’t rank very high on their “to do” list. There are a number of reasons, but frequently it comes down these three: (i) cost; (ii) they believe it’s just for the rich; and (iii) it’s too complicated.
Fort Worth’s recent article entitled “3 Tips to Help Simplify Estate Planning,” explains that an estate plan really is not about you. It’s about taking care of your loved ones and charities. Even so, a good estate plan will, at a minimum, pay for itself. At best, it can return hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Why do I say this? Because, at a minimum, a good plan avoid probate later, which is in itself a large expense. At best, a great plan can leave tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) to your heirs that would have gone to the nursing home (depending on individual situations).
Further, without an estate plan or last will, state intestacy law determines who gets your assets. You lose control of how your wealth will be distributed.
Let’s look at three tips to simplify estate planning and make it easier and to help you prepare for the future:
- Work with a board certified estate planning attorney. Estate planning is not something you ask your buddy to do. “Hey, Jimmy, help me write my will.” No way. Partner with an experienced estate planning attorney, preferably one board certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, so you are confident your documents comply with state law and that the plan’s language clearly details how your wealth should be managed. You can find Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialists here: https://www.lsba.org/specialization/Specialist.aspx?Spec=Estate
- Review your estate planning documents regularly. We all have planned and unexpected events in our lives, like new grandchildren, illnesses, or significant increases or decreases in your net worth that could impact wealth and how it should be distributed. To simplify your estate planning, meet regularly with your estate planning attorney and review your plan to make sure it still meets your needs and intentions.
- Organize important documents. Make certain important documents have been created and can be located quickly, if something happens to you. Here is a list of documents you should have on file that can be accessed by your spouse or family members in case of an emergency:
- Wills, trusts, and other important estate planning documents
- A list of tangible and intangible property
- A list of financial accounts and insurance policies; and
- Email accounts, logins, or other log-in information to your PC and phone.
Estate planning is not a DIY project. To simplify your estate planning you should have the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney (preferably Board Certified) to make certain that your wishes are carried out and that your estate plan can withstand any legal challenge.
Reference: Fort Worth (May 6, 2021) “3 Tips To Help Simplify Estate Planning”