Estate planning is an important process for any adult. People all too often let themselves focus on minutiae that deter them from creating an estate plan. For example, they may read about the value of having a trust and then end up getting confused when they look at the list of different types of trusts that testators can create. Instead of seeking guidance, they get frustrated and put off the task of crafting a plan for another day.
An estate plan can very easily be viewed as a complex, complicated collection of documents. However, just managing the basics can be sufficient for many people. Starting with the concerns noted below can help an adult who is feeling overwhelmed about the process get started with what needs to be done. Supplemental approaches can be employed once a foundation is in place.
People need living and testamentary documents
A basic estate plan could be as simple as a single document. A will can name the guardian for someone’s children and recipients for their major assets. It is a common mistake for people to focus only on the descent of their property and the protection of their family members instead of considering what needs they may have in the future. Testamentary documents discussing someone’s death, including wills and trusts, are very useful. Most people would also benefit from creating living documents like powers of attorney and advance medical directives to protect them from emergencies that leave them incapacitated.
Estate plans require frequent review
One of the many reasons that people procrastinate about estate planning is that they know that they want to have another child or that they will sell their house and move into a smaller home when they retire. Instead of waiting for everything in one’s life to feel settled, be safer approach typically involves adults frequently reviewing their estate plan. Checking the documents every few years and after major changes to one’s finances or family can help ensure that the documents remain accurate and valid.
What someone doesn’t say can cause problems
Some people don’t want to talk about their legacy wishes with their loved ones. Others make major choices, like the decision to disinherit one child, and do not share that directly with their families. It can be very important to talk about estate planning wishes with beneficiaries and family members. It is also very important to make sure that a testator addresses all of their major choices and assets in writing in their estate plan. From acknowledging the decision to disinherit one child instead of just leaving them out of the paperwork to addressing what happens to the assets not valuable enough to include by name, there are many details that people typically need to include in their estate plans to avoid conflict after their passing.
Those who understand the basics of estate planning will be in a better position to protect their interests and their loved ones alike. Putting together and regularly reviewing an estate plan is a valuable undertaking for adults of all ages and circumstances. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to start.