Most adults are aware of the importance of estate planning, of getting (and keeping) your affairs in order so that when you pass on, your loved ones have an organized roadmap to follow in taking care of your desires. A solid estate plan, however, requires a great deal more than just a last will and testament, and many people are fearful of getting started. At the very least, they’re not sure what the first steps should be. Learn about the steps to take to get started on your plan for your heirs, and how an estate planning lawyer can help the process.

Intestate Passing

If you pass away and you don’t have a will, this is referred to as an intestate death. This requires your relatives to go through probate to determine who gets your assets and how they are distributed. This can create a lot of internal strife as well as cost a great amount of money. Estate planning allows you to avoid the pains that go along with this.

Planning Your Will

As you might expect, your Last Will and Testament (or just your will) is the first step in settling your estate. The first thing you need to do is sit down and make a list of every asset and liability you have. If you have children, determine who should become their legal guardian. You should likely have a family discussion about this issue, and obviously make sure the person you choose is willing to accept the responsibility.

Next, make sure that the beneficiaries on your life insurance and other accounts are up to date. Check over estate tax laws and exemptions as well as funerary costs; your beneficiaries will need to compensate for these and it helps if your will has stipulations to help. Finally, distribute the assets as you think best.

Not as Easy as It Seems

If writing your will seems simple, it unfortunately isn’t as easy as it should be. Again, you’ll need to account for the costs of your funeral expenses as well as any estate taxes that will be assessed against your possessions when you die. This can be very tricky and there can be a number of legal issues that come into play. That’s why it’s good to have help.

Estate Planning Lawyer

Many people consult with a qualified estate planning lawyer while planning their will, and this can be the best possible step you take. An attorney of this type knows how to avoid crippling estate taxes through the use of charitable donations, trusts, educational and medical expenses, family loans, insurance, gifting and a variety of other approaches.

With the help of a qualified estate planner and financial advisor, you can ensure that your family will be taken care of when you pass away, rather than left with a mountain of debt you did not intend.

If you’re ready to start your estate plan in Greater Cleveland, we are ready to help. Review our estate planning services, and get in touch with Stano Law Firm today!