As you get older, taking steps to secure your estate will become more important than ever, and there is a lot that you need to know. To help make this, often complicated, process a little easier, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Keep Your Documents Safe and Up-to-Date
Only 50% of Americans over the age of 65 have a will that is up-to-date, and this can be problematic if something happens to you. Your estate plan should always include up-to-date documents to help protect your assets and allow your wishes to be carried out after your death.
Regardless of your lifestyle, some of the most important documents to have include:
- Living Will: This can provide instructions about what you want to do if you are unable to dictate your wishes for yourself.
- Last Will and Testament: This will designate beneficiaries of your assets and property as well as dictating the guardians of any minor children.
- Financial Power of Attorney: This will determine who has the right to make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: This will determine who has the power to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Release: This will allow specific individuals to have access to your healthcare information.
All of these documents are important to have up-to-date and stored in a safe place so they can be easily found and accessed if something were to happen to you.
2. Planning For Taxes
Estate taxes are something to keep in mind if you have an estate that is estimated above a specific value. For instance, estates over $10,860,000 for couples and $5,430,000 for individuals are the general thresholds, and any amount in excess of these values will be subject to estate taxes.
These taxes are usually due around nine months after the death of the estate owner, and they can be a confusing burden on loved ones if you don’t have a plan set in place to deal with them.
A tax professional who can work alongside your estate attorney can help you determine the best strategy to handle these taxes.
3. Keep Your Beneficiaries Up-to-Date
When plotting out your estate plan, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that any money that is in accounts that have named beneficiaries, will be designated to those individuals even if you named someone different in your estate plan.
Always make sure that your accounts match the beneficiary listed in your will so that there won’t be any conflicts or confusion when it comes time to distribute everything.
4. Consider Your Properties
Private landowners own roughly 56% of all forests in the United States, with 29% being publicly owned, and 13% owned by the forest products industry. If your estate includes a lot of forested acreage, you may want to consider who it should be entrusted to after your death. For instance, if a family member wants the property, you’ll want to ensure that it is specified in your will. Similarly, if it’s going to be sold, you’ll want to discuss who wants to handle that process.
Taking care of this beforehand can help keep things more organized and it can help make the process easier for your loved ones.
Planning Your Estate
Planning your estate can be a complicated process, and there is a lot that goes into it. However, by keeping these tips in mind, and by working with a trusted attorney, you can make the process much easier for both you and your loved ones.
If you haven’t already, contact an estate attorney near you to get started creating your estate plan. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can start enjoying your life without worrying about what will happen if something happens to you.