If the idea of getting your finances in order soon seems daunting, estate planning may be low on your list of priorities. But experts say that procrastination can harm you and your loved ones.
There is no way to know when we will be gone, but this difficult time can be made easier for our friends and family by having a plan that tells them how to use any money or property we have left.
What is landscaping?
Think of an estate plan as the ultimate guide to how to manage important decisions about your finances, health, and more.
“An estate plan is a series of legal documents that outline your final wishes for your property, medical decisions, and finances — how you create an estate plan and keep it up to date,” says Jenny Xia Spradling, Co-CEO of FreeWill. , an online platform that offers free site planning tools. “It takes care of your assets, your future care, and the legacy you leave to the people and things you care about. It’s important because it helps the probate process, which can be long and expensive for your loved ones, can help you save money and care for children and pets. , it helps prevent conflicts between your loved ones over your finances, and it helps you. you leave power through charity.”
Your housing plan should leave clear instructions on the following:
- Identification documents: Proof of your documents, such as your driver’s license, passport, and Social Security card.
- A last will and testament: This tells your family and loved ones how you want your wealth and assets to be distributed.
- Revocable living trust: A legal document that gives authority to the person you have chosen to make decisions about the money or property that is part of the trust.
- Pronouns of benefit: This is the person or people who will inherit your property when you die. This can include any money in your life insurance, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, and more.
- Advance healthcare directive: Legal documents that provide clear instructions for your health care if you are unable to express your wishes.
- Financial strength of the representative: This document appoints a person to manage your money.
- Activities or positions: Your estate plan should include records or titles of your property and assets.
- Funeral instructions and wishes: If you have any funeral wishes that you would like your loved ones to carry out, be sure to include detailed instructions in your estate plan.
Most Americans do not have a plan
A common misconception is that estate planning is for the wealthy, but this is simply not true. Your loved ones will need to know what to do with any assets or money you leave behind, regardless of size or value.
It is expected that more $80 trillion it will be passed down from today’s generations to their children and heirs over the next two decades, but most Americans do not have a clear plan for their assets.
A 2022 survey and Caring.com found that only 33% of Americans have a living will or trust, and one in three Americans who do not have a will or living trust say they do not have enough assets to leave. And attitudes are even worse for people of color.
According to a Consumer Reports 2022 survey, 61% of white Americans and 67% of English-speaking Asians have no will. Looking at other groups, the survey found that 77% of blacks and 82% of Hispanics do not have a will.
If you don’t plan ahead, you run the risk of dying without a license or a place where it belongs – or you might just be trying to do it when you’re physically and/or mentally weak and you’d rather make the most of your time. and the people you love. This can be at risk of not knowing when you’re alive who makes health and financial decisions for you if you fail, what you want for your body when you die, and who receives your property,” says Spradling. , this can lead to conflicts on your property which can be ugly and expensive, and maybe not what you wanted.”
4 pointers to keep in mind when making your plans
When you are working on your landscaping, you should keep the following things in mind to ensure that the process is smooth and noise-free.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if it makes sense for your situation. Depending on the size of your estate, the amount of your assets, or the circumstances of your family, it may be helpful to work with a licensed estate planning attorney. Spradling said: “Anyone who has a very difficult estate with trustees, or children with special needs, should go to a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer will come with additional costs, but it will give you peace of mind that no stone will be left unturned and all your assets will be distributed properly.
- Use free tools online. If you expect your plan to be small and perhaps have a small space, you can take advantage of free websites that provide easy-to-follow templates for your space planning documents.
- Be sure to distribute copies of your plans. Your attorney should have a copy of your estate plan, as well as any family members you want to share with them who may be included in your estate plan as beneficiaries or executors of your estate – although it is not necessary to share them. and all your loved ones in advance.
- Adjust your plan as your circumstances or needs change. Depending on when you create your home plan, you can expect some of your things to change. That’s why it’s important to update your site plan from time to time. “One of the biggest mistakes in not doing estate planning is with families who change. Many relationships don’t work out, and a common issue is that old-fashioned estate planning creates problems for the estranged spouse,” Spradling said. ignore them. After all, pets have a shorter life span than people, so there will often be changes that happen over time in terms of who your pets are, how old they are and how much you have to put aside in your pet trust to take care of them.”
For some, estate planning can be difficult and overwhelming, but taking the time to establish clear guidelines now can help make it easier for your loved ones later. It also protects your inheritance and ensures a smooth transfer of wealth from one generation to the next.