If you have any money in the bank, are married, have children, or own items of sentimental value, then you can probably benefit from having an estate plan. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. Anyone, no matter what their economic status, should consider establishing an estate plan. Most people think that an estate is when you have millions of dollars in the bank, but it’s actually everything you own or have control over, such as assets, property, and debts too.
Of course, since we are mortal after all, it’s best to have a plan on how you want your legacy to be distributed to those you care about the most after your death. As an estate planning lawyer Fort Collins, CO families trust from W.B. Moore Law knows, the task of preparing for after you have passed on it is not an easy one, but it is a necessary step in protecting what you have built over a lifetime.
So what does an estate plan include anyway? It’s more than just instructions for how to divide property or assets after your death. A full estate plan entails plans for how you want your wishes to be carried out if you were to become incapacitated and unable to make choices for yourself. It is also useful in appointing an executor, someone who will follow the instructions in the estate plan you left behind. There are many other elements of writing an estate plan that your legal team can review with you. Responsibilities that your executor should be willing to fulfill include but are not limited to the following:
- Locating will and submitting a copy to the probate court
- Notifying creditors, banks, and other government agencies
- Maintaining will property
- Ensuring debts and taxes are paid from the estate
- Communicating with beneficiaries or heirs
- Distributing assets and property
Essentially, an estate plan sees to it that what you built over a lifetime goes onto future generations of your chosen family, friends, and charity organizations. A comprehensive estate plan may have documents such as:
- Pet provisions
- Power of attorney
- Living will
- Medical power of attorney
- Advance directive
- Guardianship for minor children
- Transfer upon death accounts or deeds
- Beneficiary designations
- Fund for charity organization
If you are wondering if you need a will, the answer is probably yes. If someone passes away without a will or trust in place, which are two common estate planning documents, then this means they died “intestate”. In these cases, the estate will be handled based on state intestacy laws. The property within someone’s estate may have to undergo probate and may get divided up based on law and without consideration for family nuances and what the decedent would have preferred. All in all, unless you want to risk your assets being handled in a way you wouldn’t want by the court, then you should develop a legally-binding estate plan.