What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is intended to ensure that in the event of your death, your assets, bank accounts, and other properties are distributed to your named beneficiaries properly. While there are plenty of “do-it-yourself” estate planning tools available online, they often take a“cookie-cutter” approach to estate planning. After you’ve gone through the following checklist, enlist the help of an estate planning attorney to handle your estate plan.
Asset OwnershipWhether it’s your home or your car, it’s vital to establish asset ownership for your titled property. Asset ownership means that upon your death, the title will automatically be passed to a co-owner, which is typically a person’s spouse. It’s crucial to ensure that the title indicates at least one of the following:
- The title is held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship
- The title is held as tenants by the entireties
- The title is held as community property.
Not all property needs to be set up with asset ownership. Giving up asset ownership rights of certain property before your death doesn’t always make sense — for example, savings or other financial accounts. For these types of accounts, it would be best to designate a beneficiary to receive this type of property in the event of your death.
Create a Will or Living Trust
Depending on your estate planning goals, you will need to decide if creating a will or living trust will be the best way to handle your estate. Here are some benefits of each:
- Allow you to have someone you trust to handle your affairs after your passing.
- Ensures that the state does not interfere with the distribution of your assets.
- A will establishes legal guardianship for minor children.
- A will can be amended at any time.
- Named family and friends can receive assets without going through the taxing probate process.
- Your assets will be distributed to your loved one as per your instructions through an appointed trustee.
- Trustees can receive assets quickly without legal fees that can tap into inheritance.
- A revocable living trust gives you the freedom to nominate someone you trust to take care of you and your personal affairs without court interference should you become mentally incapacitated.
- It can be amended at any time.
When you need an Estate Planning Attorney
Estate laws can be challenging to navigate and attempting to create an estate plan on your own only leaves room for errors. An estate attorney will help you establish a custom estate plan that will give you and your family peace of mind.
From wills to living trusts and more, contact Auten & Willingham, P.C. today at (214) 643-8757 for all your estate planning needs.