Estate planning is incredibly important if you want to ensure that your friends and loved ones receive the assets you’d like bequeathed to them after your passing. Many people nevertheless ignore estate planning because they don’t like to think about death, are concerned that they may mess up the process, or have no idea where to begin when it comes to making long-term plans for your belongings. Rather than hoping for the best after your death, you should be taking proactive steps right now to ensure that your estate is managed according to your whims no matter what occurs in the future.
Here’s how to improve your estate planning, some common mistakes to avoid in the process, and why you can’t delay when it comes to making such arrangements.
Learn to avoid probate
One of the best ways that you can improve your estate planning is by learning to avoid probate. When we talk about probate, what we really mean is the legal process whereby individuals can argue over your possessions after you’ve passed away; if you have a will that gives money or assets to your family, for instance, different family members may argue over who gets what, and probate is the legal process which will resolve such questions. It should go without saying that probate is often a deeply uncomfortable and disruptive process; many families and friendships have been torn apart thanks to probate proceedings which led to feuds over who gets what.
Luckily, you can avoid probate if you’re clever enough. The easiest way to avoid probate is by investing in a living trust, or a legal document that establishes a “trustee” and a “beneficiary” to make it very clear who you want your assets to go to if you become incapacitated or pass away. Establishing a trust isn’t particularly difficult, and it’s often quite cheap. While many people refrain from establishing trusts because they think their final will can fulfill the same responsibilities, wills are quite contestable and frequently lead to probate issues, whereas trusts are clear legal documents that warrant no bickering.
Besides having a living trust that will ensure your assets are managed according to your whims after your death or incapacitation, you should also seriously consider your current life insurance arrangement. If you’re worried about the financial stability of those close to you in the immediate aftermath of your passing, you can gain assurance that your loved ones will be okay once you’re gone by having a solid life insurance policy that guarantees they’ll be provided for. Anybody who’s serious about improving their estate planning should set some time aside to read up on life insurance policies and how they can benefit your loved ones after your death.
Formalizing your estate plan
Now that you’re familiar with terms like a living trust and have an understanding of why life insurance policies are important, you can move on to the actual business of formalizing your estate plan. Family estate plans are never easy to create, as you have to ask yourself hard questions about who gets your property after your passing, but it’s better to answer these questions while you’re still able to than it is to simply ignore them. If you have a large property, with a big garden managed by Smith’s tree removal, this is even more important.
Ensure that you have a quality law firm to help you when making an estate plan, as this is something that non-legal experts shouldn’t try to handle by themselves. If you approach it in too amateur a fashion, for instance, you may end up creating a document that’s not legally binding and won’t be obeyed after your passing.
Finally, remember to incorporate altruism into your estate plan; if you’re not giving something to charity after you pass away, you’re likely making a sore mistake. While nobody is obligated to donate to others, it can leave you feeling content that your estate plan isn’t a selfish endeavor, but rather a selfless document that will ensure the world will be a better place once you’re gone. Set some time aside to look up interesting charities that you support and consider adding them to your estate plan. Your family and friends will likely be pleased to hear about it, too. Before long, your estate plan will be complete and you can rest easy.