As a parent and/or spouse, it’s your responsibility to ensure the financial security of your family in your absence. Estate planning is a “must-have” set of legal documents that help protect your loved ones’ futures, as well as precious family heirlooms that have been passed down each generation.
If you haven’t gotten around to planning your estate, it’s time to make it a priority. Of course, with such an important task, you may have many questions about starting the process.
In this article, we’ve compiled important considerations you’ll need to make while creating an estate plan. To get started, let’s review four important questions you’ll want to ask yourself first.
Who do you want to be the executor of your estate?
Every Will must assign an executor to oversee the terms of the document in the event of your passing. An executor’s duties will include:
- Taking inventory of the deceased’s property
- Distributing belongings
- Paying taxes
- Settling debts
The role of executor comes with many important responsibilities, so make sure your executor of choice is willing to take the job and follow through on each task to the best of his or her ability.
What property do you want to include in the will? Who should inherit it?
When deciding what property to include in your will, start by listing all your significant assets. Next, make sure you include the name of the individual (or institution) you wish to bequeath these items to.
If you’re married, keep in mind that each spouse should write his or her own will—since you can only bequeath your share of the jointly-owned assets.
Who would you like to be the guardian of your children?
This is perhaps the most important question for parents to consider when creating an estate plan.
Deciding who will care for your children after you’re gone isn’t an easy task. Remember to choose alternate or contingent guardians in case your first choice is unable to fulfill the role or does not survive you after death.
Who can manage your children’s property?
Whether you choose your children’s guardian or a third party, it’s important for an adult to manage your children’s property before they come of age.
Don’t Forget About Long-Term Care
A common trait among individuals nearing their retirement age is the tendency to underestimate their future health needs, and as a result, these same individuals do not complete the necessary planning for medical assistance.
It can be easy to forget about future medical expenses when planning an estate. However, this common oversight has caused significant financial dilemmas for seniors and their families as they struggle to afford mounting medical bills and long-term nursing care.
Including medical assistance expenses in your estate planning is a smart way to prepare for your future needs and protect your family from the burden of these costs.
Before speaking to an estate planning attorney, be sure to:
- Talk to your doctor about potential future costs associated with your health
- Research the cost of different types of medical assistance to get a feel of what to expect
- Meet with your financial planner to discuss your wishes
Remember to Update Your Estate Plan
Perhaps you’ve recently experienced a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, childbirth, or death of a loved one), and you’re wondering if it’s time to review your list of assets and beneficiaries to ensure your entire family is protected should the unexpected happen.
If you have experienced any of the aforementioned events, it’s time to start thinking about whether your estate plan is missing key elements that, if left unamended, could cost your family time, legal fees, and unwanted stress in your absence.
Here are three reasons you may need to revisit your plan with an estate planning attorney:
- Your Estate Plan Does Not Include a Residuary Clause: An essential yet often overlooked piece of any will is the inclusion of a residuary clause. If you forget to name a certain property in your will (or you are unaware of ownership), a residuary clause ensures that any unspecified property will be handed to the named individual you have chosen.
- Your Estate Plan Includes Deceased Beneficiaries: As you get older, you may find that someone who was listed as a beneficiary in your estate plan is now deceased. If this happens, it’s important that you update this information in an adequate time frame. Failing to do so means any assets assigned to this beneficiary will be brought to court and distributed by a judge.
- Your Estate Plan Does Not Name a Legal Guardian of a Minor: If you’ve recently had a child, or you’re planning to have children, you’ll want to name a legal guardian to care for your child(ren) in your absence.
If your estate plan does not include this essential designation, your child’s future will be placed in a judge’s hands, which means your child may end up being raised by a relative that does not share your same principles or values.
Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney
The best way to ensure your estate plan aligns with your final wishes and is designed to protect your family is to consult an experienced estate planning attorney.
At KTF Law Firm, our trusted Minnesota attorneys will help you review and develop a secure estate plan, so you can rest assured that the most important people in your life are protected now and in the future.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!