Estate Planning: What is and why I need to know about it

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Last Updated on December 5, 2021 by Carlos Lopez

When you reach a certain age and begin to accomplish some of your goals, one question comes to the forefront of your day-to-day thoughts: What happens to my assets when I die?

Today I’ll explain what an estate plan is and the basic reasons why you should consult your attorney to develop one .

What is Estate Planning?

When we talk about estate planning, it refers to the process through which a person (or a family) organizes the succession of assets in anticipation of death (in either case).

Why should I have an Estate Plan?

The purpose of having an estate plan is to preserve the maximum amount of assets (and wealth) possible for the beneficiaries of the plan and for the person to whom it is prepared to have the option of organizing how they will be delivered to each of them.

In addition to the above, the financial obligations of the person in a situation where he/she becomes disabled must also be taken into account.

Lastly it will speed up and make the probate process easier.

What assets can make up an estate plan?

Assets that can be taken as a person’s estate include the following:

  • Properties: houses, apartments, cottages, land.
  • Vehicles: automobiles, motorcycles, boats, airplanes, etc.
  • Collectibles: coins, works of art, antiques, collectible cards
  • Bank accounts
  • Pensions
  • Stocks
  • Life insurance accounts
  • Debts

Common reasons why a person has an Estate Plan

There are many reasons why you should have an estate plan in place, such as the following:

  • To preserve family wealth
  • To provide the surviving spouse (or husband) and children with a life free of financial problems.
  • To fund the education of children or grandchildren
  • Leaving your assets to a charitable cause (or several)
  • Avoiding additional costs and time in probate
  • Appoint guardians for minor children
  • Appointing an executor of your last will (personal representative)
  • Giving guidance to your family (and doctors) about health decisions

What should be included in an estate plan?

Below is a list of the basics that should be included in an estate plan prepared by an estate plan attorney, although not all may apply to your particular case:

  • A will, which identifies the beneficiary (or beneficiaries).
  • A power of attorney
  • A medical power of attorney
  • A living will
  • A trust

More information on these aspects can be found in my article on the basics of an estate plan.

What should I consider when making an Estate Plan?

First of all, remember that although you can start collecting the information to make your estate plan on your own, it is best to consult with an attorney who has extensive experience in the subject and who will talk with you to develop a guide to the information to be collected.

However, you could start by performing the following activities:

  1. Calculate your current value, for this, elaborate a list of financial assets, properties in your name and document liabilities.
  2. Indicate which will be the beneficiaries of your estate plan (you can also update them if you already have one).
  3. Don’t forget to review your estate plan on a regular basis as both your assets and your beneficiaries may change over time.
  4. And again, look for a qualified estate planning attorney, if recommended by someone you trust, it might be better.

Don’t procrastinate, seek specialized legal help to start your estate planning.

Always keep in mind that organizing an estate plan for when you are dead is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family and others close to you who you want to keep well.

Estate Planning Attorney in Washington, D.C.

At Lopez Law Firm LLC we will make sure that your estate plan is done correctly thanks to our extensive experience in this field. Schedule your consultation today!