Most Americans are aware of the importance of planning for their future, yet an estimated one hundred and twenty million of them have no estate plans to speak of. An estate plan, or retirement planning, is the best way to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones in the event of your death, illness, or in case of an accident. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all of your affairs are handled in the way that you choose, even after you are gone. There are many steps that you can take to help make sure that your assets are passed on as you wish and that your loved ones are taken care of. If you are considering an estate plan, give the law offices of Estate Planning Lawyer Patricia Bloom-McDonald a call today.
Estate Planning Tips
- Always Have an Updated Last Will and Testament – Without a Last Will and Testament, there is simply no way to be sure that your property and assets will be passed on in the way that you would choose. If a resident dies without a Last Will and Testament in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, then Massachusetts law will decide how your assets will be distributed. This is also true if you have any dependents, such as young children or elderly parents who depend on you for their care. Custody or guardianship of such dependents will be determined by the courts if you have not written a Last Will and Testament which expressly shows whom you wish to look after your loved ones when you are not longer able to.
- Make Sure You name Beneficiaries for All Accounts – It is not enough to simply name a Personal Representative to your Last Will and Testament when you are preparing an estate plan. Every contract that you draw up during the planning process should have its own designated beneficiary, no matter what is written in your Last Will and Testament. This means that your life insurance policy may name Aunt Susie as a beneficiary while your retirement plan could name your spouse. It is important to carefully choose each beneficiary, and to update them after a marriage, divorce, birth, etc.
- Be Careful When Choosing Your Estate’s Personal Representative – The Personal Representative to your Last Will and Testament, or the executor to your estate, is in charge of making sure that your debts are paid and that your assets are distributed in the manner that you have set forth in your Last Will and Testament. Many people choose their spouse, or perhaps an older child to be their Personal Representative, but in some cases, this can be quite a burden for your loved one to carry out. If you have a large estate, if the process of settling your estate will be a long one, or if there is likely to be confrontation within the family about your estate, then perhaps choosing someone other than a spouse or child would be best. In such cases, it may be best to hire a professional executor, such as a certified public accountant to handle things for your estate.
- Inform Loved Ones Where Vital Documents Are Located – What good would it do to have a Last Will and Testament if no one was aware of it upon your death? While you do not want everyone knowing where your Last Will and Testament, insurance papers, and other documents are located, it is important to make sure that your trusted loved ones are aware of what you have and where they can be found if you are unable to communicate this personally. Documents such as a birth certificate, marriage licenses, death certificates, Durable Power of Attorneys, a Last Will and Testament, life insurance policies, retirement papers, etc., should all be stored together in a location protected from fire, theft, and water damage; tell your trusted loved ones where they can find these documents when they are needed.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer
These are just a few tips for anyone who is considering estate planning. Retirement lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to help make sure that your loved ones and your assets will be protected through your estate plan.