A businesswoman holds a house model in front of a calculator and papers - Legacy Law CentersEstate planning is a critical process that ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. But it’s more than this. It is also the mechanism by which you can mitigate potential disputes that may arise among your loved ones over your assets. It is also a vehicle for considerable tax savings and the plan of action your loved ones can refer to should you ever be in a situation where you’re unable to communicate for yourself.

Despite the clear and overwhelming benefits of having a comprehensive estate plan, so many people forgo one. Why? Everyone has their own reason, but the difficulty in getting started is undoubtedly a common one.

In this article, the estate planning attorneys of Legacy Law Centers aim to make the process of starting your own estate plan simpler. Whether you are in Nashville, TN, or Leesburg, VA, Legacy Law Centers can provide you with tailored solutions and empower you with knowledge that addresses your estate planning needs.

Why Estate Planning Is Important

Proper estate planning ensures your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes, provides for the care of any minor children you may have, and can help reduce tax obligations and legal fees. Not having an estate plan in place means your assets will be subject to being distributed according to state law. There’s a good chance this distribution schedule won’t align with your desires.

Essential Information

Although every person and their situation is unique, generally speaking, you’ll need to gather the following information as you work with an estate planning lawyer to set up your estate plan.

Personal Information

You’ll need the following personal information for you, your spouse, and any children you may have:

You’ll also need the contact information for your beneficiaries and heirs. It’s also possible you’ll need to provide documentation attesting to your marital status, both past and current.

Asset Information

Begin compiling a list of your assets, including:

With this list, you’ll also want to come up with a valuation of each asset. Include information about the ownership status of each asset, too, clarifying whether it is owned by you alone, jointly with your spouse, or by a trust you may have previously had set up.

Debts And Liabilities

The other side of the coin to your assets is any debt or liabilities there are in your name. Compile these into a list, whether it be a mortgage, loan, or credit card balance. Be sure to include details about any personal guarantees or co-signed loans you may have.

Estate Planning-Related Documents

If you previously set up an estate plan, for instance, you’ll need to include whatever estate planning-related documents you have, such as:

With them, include the beneficiary designations you have in place for any retirement accounts or life insurance policies as well.

First Steps

After you’ve compiled this information, you’re ready to proceed with the first steps of creating an estate plan. Strictly speaking, you don’t need an estate administration lawyer to do most, if not all, of these items for you. However, opting not to work with one opens you up to a considerable amount of risk.

Define Your Goals

Determine the objectives driving your decision to develop an estate plan. These can range from providing for your family to minimizing tax obligations or supporting a charity you’re passionate about.

Select Key Individuals

Choose an executor for your estate. They’ll ensure your wishes are carried out exactly as you instructed. If you have any minor children, appoint a guardian to care for them in the event of an untimely passing. Be sure to choose someone to serve as your healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney, too.

Draft Documents

You’ll need to have some key documents in place to set up your estate plan so that it is viable. These include:

These documents must be legally compliant. Seeking out the knowledge and experience of an estate planning attorney to work on them with is a sure way to ensure they are without sacrificing your wishes.

Getting started with estate planning may seem overwhelming, but continuing to dive into it, you’re making the eventual process much easier to handle. After a certain point, though, you’ll need to take action. When you do, don’t keep googling estate planning lawyers near me. Contact Legacy Law Centers for answers to your questions and guidance for your estate plan.

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