Estate planning is crucial for all of us, especially if you have a terminal illness. It is a way to protect your assets, possessions and money for you and your heirs. It will assure your estate is given out the way you want. Many methods are available to help you do this. Some can minimize estate/inheritance taxes by avoiding or minimizing the involvement of probate court.
Most documents require two witnesses. It is better if the signers are not beneficiaries. The signatures may have to be notarized, but it is a good idea in any case. If you have property in different states, you may need separate documents for each one.
Everyone should have an estate plan specific for their needs. It is important to have a basic understanding of estate planning, even if you decide to use an estate planning professional. Since you can’t expect any verbal requests about your estate to be enforced, everything has to be “in writing.”
This is important information to include in your estate plan
- Contingencies for the possibility of both death and disability.
- Ways to protect your assets from estate tax and probate court.
- Your wishes for your assets upon your death.
- Specific plans for the financial well-being of your family.
- Designation of your beneficiaries and guardianship of young children or other dependents.
- Designation of persons to manage the estate and finances if you become unable or unwilling to.
- Directions for your executor or trustee.
- General or specific statement for any other wishes.
You should talk with your intended trustee, Power of Attorney, and/or executor before creating any document designating them.
If they have not been shared before death, make sure you leave behind a document that has the location of all your assets. Your executor will need this document to settle your estate. If you become incapacitated, the person managing your estate will also need it.
In order for this to happen, you must store the necessary documents in a safe place that can be easily accessed by you, your agent, and any other involved party, such as a lawyer. See section on Storing and Sharing Documents.
Before you meet with your attorney, you can use this form from FindLaw to collect and record the details necessary to create your estate plan.