Estate planning may seem complicated, boring, daunting, or any combination of the three. But there’s one adjective you may not be thinking of: easy. For all the fancy terminology and complex legalities, there are really only three elements to your estate plan, and they aren’t hard to get sorted out. But once you do, you can save your surviving family much time, energy and grief trying to determine your final wishes.
- Will. A will determines everything about your estate and who gets it after you’re gone. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to line up with any assets you have already made decisions about, such as the beneficiaries to your 401k, IRA or life insurance policies. You need to choose someone you trust (your executor) to carry out your will. Although no one ever needs to read your will until you are gone, more than one person should know where to find it once it’s needed.
- Power of attorney. Power of attorney comes in two forms: durable and springing. Durable is power of attorney that begins as soon as you put pen to paper. Springing only goes into effect after certain conditions as predetermined by you. Having this puts someone you chose and you trust in charge of your affairs after you’re gone.
- Trust. A trust gives you control over what goes to whom and under what conditions. It also helps your heirs reduce tax liability and allows you to give assets to heirs without the additional cost of going through probate.
Once you have these elements in place, your estate plan requires very little maintenance to stay current and protect your family.
Over the past 31 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.