Senior Alert: Have You Developed an Estate Plan

Jul 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Critical to good legal, familial, and financial planning is to have an estate plan in place.  It is never too early.  It is often avoided so long that it can be too late.  Getting to it, either with or without legal counsel, is a very necessary step in protecting your accumulated wealth and making certain it is designated to where or whom you want it to go.

There are available Estate Planning Guides through bookstores and  the Internet.  As in any undertaking DO NOT allow yourself to be fleeced by someone with promises,  fast talk and no skills and a quick way to take some of your money!  Depending upon the value of your estate, it may be wise to engage a reputable attorney, or to use the family attorney, if you have one.

Developing an estate plan includes naming an executor, determining the viability of a trust, identifying that trust by name and those who are a part of it.  Further, an analysis of designated receivers of the trust, indications of specific parts of the estate to be specifically named, an inventory of the balance of the trust, if necessary, or simply bundle the worth of the estate into a generic trust. 

The value of an estate, aside from its monetary and other assets is to avoid any misunderstandings upon death and the distribution of the estate.  A will may accompany the trust, but is not absolutely necessary.  Of course, different laws and customs abide in different states, so one must be familiar with the particular rules that guide an estate plan in your state.

Being certain, upon the drawing up of the plan, that it is in the hands of appropriate persons, institutions, attorney(s) or other, as in family member(s), is very critical.  It needs to be lodged with persons who will be responsible parties and in a position to immediately know of the death of the party or parties involved.

Automobiles and certain household belongings do not have to be categorized within a trust.  However, if there is the potential for conflict, a listing of specific items can be made andattached as an addendum to the trust.

The best part of a Plan is that it answers, or should, all necessary issues and questions and is made inviolate by a notary or some other legally binding understanding so that it cannot be challenged. . Of course, depending upon tax codes and other considerations, some changes may be possible if they are deemed necessary.  Thus staying abreast of changing  dynamics is always wise.   

Solving problems, conflicts, misunderstandings before they happen will make for a much happier family, a more reasonable approach to the distribution of one’s estate, and a clear way of communicating, when asked, that “the estate plan is taken care of.”

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