When handling estate planning work, there are lots of moving parts you have to keep an eye on. Focus on these four items to give beneficiaries a better chance of truly benefiting from your estate's transfer.
It's hard to overstate how much value an estate planning attorney can provide. You're going to be signing a lot of documents. More importantly, every one of those documents is potentially subject to scrutiny. Worse, you may not be there to explain what the heck you meant to happen. Sit down with a lawyer and have a good read-through of every document you intend to sign.
Minimizing Exposure to Probate
A lot of different processes can allow you to skip the probate process. In particular, certain accounts can be declared payable upon death. You can go to your bank and ask that your checking and savings accounts be named payable to a beneficiary upon your passing.
Another tool to consider using is a trust. Trusts can be established while you're alive and set up to only go into effect upon your death. This will allow you to enjoy the assets named in the trust while you're around and still ensure everything is available to your preferred beneficiaries.
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
The government is going to want its cut of your estate, so plan accordingly. First, make sure your own outstanding taxes will be paid, because those have to be addressed before anything is distributed. You can accomplish this by setting up a fund in a low-interest and low-risk account for a bit more than what you anticipate your last tax bill will be.
Second, it's wise to include a second fund to cover taxes that the named beneficiaries will owe. Especially if you're transferring part of your estate to someone who doesn't have the same financial resources as you, this can make a huge difference for them. Likewise, get valuations on items you plan to transfer so the taxes on those will be paid, too.
Keep in Touch
Naming beneficiaries of an estate is one thing, but making sure they'll be contacted when the plan is put into action can be quite another problem. Have your estate planning attorney investigate where the beneficiaries are living and how to contact them. It's a good idea to update this collection of contact information at least once a year, also.
For more tips, work with a local estate planning attorney.