An estate is a broad term that refers to the property and land controlled or owned by an individual. An estate can include cash, real estate, financial securities, possessions and any other assets the person may own.
If you’re wondering what happens to your assets after you die, the answer depends on the actions you take before you die. If you are careful to get your estate in order and get legal help to do so as needed, you may be able to relieve a significant portion of the estate tax burden for your surviving beneficiaries.
Since National Estate Planning Awareness Week falls in October, it’s the perfect time to get your estate in order. Many people assume the estate planning process is expensive and difficult, but it’s actually easier to plan your estate when you’re in good physical and mental health rather than waiting until you’re closer to the end of your life. Here’s how to get your estate in order.
Make a List of Your Assets
Before you can determine who will get your assets after you die, you first need to know what assets you have. Getting organized should be the first item of business when planning your estate. One of the easiest ways to compile your assets is to sit down with your spouse and write down every insurance policy, bank account, savings account, retirement account, etc.
Next, include any real property on your list (such as income rental property and your home). After that, add things like cars, trailers and any other personal pieces of property.
On a separate paper, make a list of your liabilities. These include all debts you may own, such as credit cards, car leases, outstanding mortgage loans, etc. Once you have a list of all your assets and liabilities, try to compile documentation for each item on your list in one place. If possible, keep both electronic files and hard copies of important documents.
Finish Your Living Will
Your living will is the document that specifies what medical treatments you want to receive in the event of a serious illness or medical event. In your living will, you can specify whether you want to receive life support if warranted, and how long you want to be on life support. You can also specify whether you want a “Do Not Resuscitate” order for certain medical conditions and emergencies.
It can be helpful to make these decisions in advance so your loved ones don’t have to make them for you when you are incapacitated. It removes some of the burden associated with impossible medical situations and can relieve your loved ones from a sense of responsibility for what happens to you.
Determine Who Will Have Power of Attorney over Your Finances
Another essential part of getting your estate in order is determining who will have power of attorney over your finances. A durable power of attorney can prevent courts from making decisions regarding your finances.
Get Help From a Professional
In addition to the items above, there are other complicated matters involved with estate planning. To navigate these matters and make the wisest decisions regarding your estate, consider getting help from a professional. Contact AmeriEstate today for assistance with your estate planning needs.