When you've spent a lifetime accumulating wealth and possessions, you want to make sure they are distributed according to your wishes once you are gone. The best way to do that is to plan your estate while you are still alive. There are many reasons to work with an attorney to get your estate in order, even if you don't have many assets. You can save your surviving family members a lot of stress and expense if your affairs are in order when you pass. Here are some things you may want to do.
Keep An Inventory Of Your Assets
Make it easy for your spouse or children to know what you own and what debts you have by keeping an inventory that you update as your circumstances change. This includes a list of all your assets as well as your debts. You may want to include account numbers, contact information, and passwords to online sites so your survivors can have access to the latest information on your estate.
Manage Your Life Insurance Policies
Your family should know where to find your life insurance policy information. You'll want to review your policies on a regular basis to make sure they are paid and the beneficiaries are named correctly. Also, check the value of the policies to make sure they keep pace with your estate and how much money you want to leave for your family to cover your final expenses and debt.
Make A Will
Work with an attorney when you're planning your estate so you can create a will. The attorney can act as a resource for your family to turn to for information once you pass. The will doesn't have to be elaborate if you don't want to divide your estate. However, you want to state who should manage your estate and who should get any property and money you leave behind. A will can also be used to name guardians for your children if they are still young.
Set Up Trust Funds
When you work with an estate planning attorney, you'll have access to people who can help you manage your estate in a way that benefits your heirs the most. This might include setting up trust funds for your kids to protect their inheritance. You'll want to protect your estate as well as possible from creditors and ex-spouses that may not have valid claims. You'll also want to ensure your money is transferred in the best way to minimize loss through taxes.
If you have a spouse and children, then organizing your trust and creating a will is important so they can inherit your assets without going to court. Part of estate management also includes naming a power of attorney for you in case you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. You definitely want someone you trust to handle your wealth and assets when you aren't able to.