Estate Planning deals with organizing your assets and liabilities in order to distribute whatever remains to your desired beneficiaries. It is done so that you’re able to give what you want to whom you desire with the minimal amount of taxes, legal fees, and time involved.
Here are four steps involved when elder law attorneys assist elders in their estate planning:
Step 1: Analyzing family dynamics
In this step, family members are listed and the way they interact with each must be accounted for. Several questions are asked, for example:
- Is the client married or divorced? Are they in their second marriage?
- Does the client have any children? From previous or current marriages?
- Do the family members get along with each other?
- Who in the family works?
- How would you like the estate to be divided?
These questions help in making guiding decisions for who would be responsible for legal, financial, or medical matters. It also helps to see if there will be potential for disputes, misunderstandings, or conflicts of interest.
Step 2: Evaluating current estate planning documents
Any documents that the client already has must be reviewed. This can include previously drafted wills, health care proxies, power of attorney, living wills, or any other related documents. Your Probate or Estate Lawyer in Forest Hills need to be very meticulous regarding these documents. This is to check if they are legally valid and if there are any changes that need to be made to them.
Step 3: Organizing the client’s assets
It is necessary to compile and organize all the assets the client owns. This includes titles of properties, bank accounts, IRA’s and 401(k)’s, jewelry, priceless art, and collections. The value of these assets, how they are titled (sole or joint ownership), and if the investments are designated to a beneficiary, all need to be noted. With this information, a lawyer can determine ways to reduce or eliminate taxes as much as the law allows for.
Step 4: Developing the estate plan
With the desires of the client in mind, an attorney will assist in assigning people who will have roles in their estate plan. This includes assigning a person to make medical decisions for the client if they are unable to express it themselves, assigning those who will need to make legal decisions, and someone to take care of financial affairs through power of attorney in case the client lacks the capacity to do so. If a trust is used, trustees and an executor need to be designated. Distribution is assigned, potential conflicts prepared for, and the plan is put into place
Preparing an estate plan can be quite nerve-wracking for some elders. Some people delay it because they may see it as the end of their life and it’s something they avoid until it may be too late. It may be easier to think of estate planning as your desired intentions being written and carried out so that your loved ones needn’t go through unnecessary hardship after your death. If you want to make sure your retirement goes smoothly and is carried out efficiently, consult an elder law attorney as soon as you can.