Estate planning is a lot like installing a security system and upgrading the locks on windows and doors. You are doing it to protect your family and property as much as possible. In anyone’s life, many unanticipated things will happen, both good and bad. Not everything can be controlled; however, certain steps can be taken that would improve the lives of those who matter most. That’s what estate planning is all about.
Sitting down with an estate law attorney in Bel Air, MD and going over an estate planning checklist would be a very thoughtful use of your time.
An Up-to-Date Will
When someone doesn’t have a will, the state will make the decisions about who inherits what. Even more important, the state would decide who should take care of orphaned children. Review a will periodically or whenever there’s a change in circumstances, such as a marriage, birth, or divorce.
A trust is essentially a place to put your assets, such as real estate, cash, securities, and life insurance. Some of the circumstances that would make a trust useful include:
- Providing for children or a disabled family member.
- Avoiding probate and estate taxes.
- Making sure that children from a previous marriage will inherit if your current spouse passes.
- Having your money managed by someone other than your heirs.
A Living Will
Also known as an advance medical or healthcare directive, a living will allows someone to make medical decisions based upon their wishes if they’re ever incapacitated.
A Durable Power of Attorney
This document allows someone else to pay bills and handle financial matters if you’re unable to do so. This document will put the person of your choice in charge rather than a court-appointed guardian.
Review Beneficiary Forms
In the past, you have probably named beneficiaries on retirement accounts, insurance policies, and bank accounts. The beneficiary form could have been filled out 20 years ago leaving it to a former spouse. Make copies of all beneficiary forms and file them with other important papers.
Protect Important Documents
Ensure your important papers are safely stored, and your executor knows where they are.
Michael S. Birch, Attorney at Law, has more than 35 years of estate planning and real estate experience. Review your own estate planning checklist with this estate law attorney in Bel Air, MD. Visit the website to learn more and to contact his office.