If you are new to the concept of estate planning, it can seem a bit intimidating the first time around given all the various goals and objectives that are frequently rolled into an estate plan. The good news is that working with an experienced estate planning attorney will go a long way toward ensuring that your plan does accomplish all of those goals and objectives. Your estate planning attorney can also help explain the process and make you feel less intimidated. Before you even get to your scheduled initial consultation, however, there are things you can think about that will ultimately help your first discussion with your estate planning attorney to be more productive. A Fargo estate planning attorney at German Law Group suggests four important things to consider when creating your estate plan.
- Goals and Objectives. Naturally, the first things you need to focus on when creating an estate plan are your goals and objectives. While your estate plan will undoubtedly provide for the distribution of your estate assets after your death, it should also do much more than that. Exactly what else your estate plan accomplishes depends on your individual needs. Most people, for example, also include incapacity planning in their estate plan. You might, however, need to provide for a child with special needs as well or you may need to include business succession planning to ensure that your family business makes a successful transition to the next generation.
- Beneficiaries. Deciding who your beneficiaries will be may be simple enough; however, you also need to decide what you want to leave behind for each beneficiary and how you want to leave that gift. Do you want to leave specific bequests or liquidate assets and gift the proceeds to beneficiaries? Do you plan to make direct gifts, or do you want to retain a certain amount of control over the gifts you make, in which case a trust is a better option?
- Fiduciaries. One of the most common mistakes people make when creating an estate plan is failing to put much thought into the fiduciary roles within their plan. Instead, people simply appoint a spouse, close friend, or family member to roles such as Executor or Trustee. The problem is that these roles often require at least a rudimentary knowledge of finance and legal topics to perform well. In addition, fiduciary roles often include numerous and varied duties and responsibilities that should be taken into account before appointing someone to the role. Before you sit down to create your plan, take the time you need to really think about who the best person for the job is.
- The Future. Of course, your estate plan need to protect you and your loved ones right now; however, do not make the mistake of failing to consider the future as well. A well thought out estate does both. Your retirement planning strategies, for example, should be taken into account within your broader estate plan. You also need to consider the likelihood that you, or a spouse, will eventually need long-term care (LTC) and how you will pay for the cost of that care. For most people, Medicaid planning is the best way to ensure that they can cover the high cost of LTC without putting their retirement nest egg at risk down the road. Finally, you may also want to think about things such as advanced directives and funeral planning to ensure that your end of life wishes are honored and that your loved ones are not forced to make difficult decisions in the midst of their grief.
Contact a Fargo Estate Planning Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, or you are ready to get started on your plan, contact a Fargo estate planning attorney at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.