Estate Planning Checklist
Estate planning is one area in our lives that should not be left to chance. Why? Because unfortunately, it is the one thing that while it will not impact us directly, it will impact our loved ones at a time when they are most vulnerable. As a firm, we have seen, on too many occasions, clients who are left handling issues they never anticipated once a loved one has passed. Not only can that be costly for your heirs it can also be emotionally draining.
A Well Planned Estate
Having a qualified estate plan in place can give you and your loved ones peace of mind and help them to avoid dealing with difficult and costly issues after your passing. Our "Estate Planning Checklist" provides a starting point for your planning.
Benefits of Proper Estate Planning
One of the primary reasons for estate planning is to avoid probate. A properly executed estate plan will keep your estate from having to go through the costly and time consuming ordeal of having your estate go through the probate court.
Reducing Estate Taxes
Proper planning can help to eliminate or at a minimum reduce the amount of estate taxes needed to be paid by your estate/trust.
Protection from Creditors
Asset protection planning is a prudent way to protect your assets not only during your lifetime but also for protecting those assets for your beneficiaries upon your passing.
To help your heirs make the right decisions, at a difficult time, you can choose an appropriate trustee(s) whose role will be to ensure the protection of your assets for your heirs and the fulfillment of your wishes.
Create a comprehensive list of all assets including, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, insurance policies, business interests, etc. Include account numbers, passwords, beneficiary designations and contact information Be sure to let your family or Executor/Trustee know where all of this information is located for easy access when the time comes.
If you are a business owner make sure you have a succession plan in place that would address estate taxes, continuity of the business and retention of key employees. Be sure to establish an organizational chart that outlines the successor roles and responsibilities of each of your key employees.
Estate & Trust
Careful thought should be given to the selection of Executors, Trustees and Financial Managers. Be sure these are individuals who are trustworthy, responsive, knowledgeable and who can interact most effectively with your heirs. Gather all contact information and clearly define the roles for each of these individuals that can be shared with your heirs to avoid any confusion or conflict of interest.
Estate Planning Documents
At a minimum, you should have a Will, Financial Powers and a Healthcare Power in place. To avoid probate you would need a more inclusive Trust package. You should perform a review of any estate documents you have every two years to keep up with any changes in the law or potential changes in your personal circumstances.
Pre-planning your funeral expenses is a wonderful gift to give to your family. Knowing that the arrangements are taken care of allows your family to partake in the ultimate celebration of your life and begin the healing process. Be sure to share your funeral plan with your family and/or Executor/Trustee so that they will be aware of your wishes.
Select an Estate Planning Attorney
Horwitz & Damicone, LLC has a long history of providing our clients with individualized estate plans to meet their personal needs. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. All families and businesses, regardless of size, will benefit from having a well thought out estate plan in place. Horwits & Damicone, LLC is ready to hep you provide your loved ones with peace of mind.