3 Basics of Estate Planning

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will-estate-planning-attorney-fort-mill-sc-960x640Estate planning in Fort Mill is one of those things that we put off far too frequently, instead of taking the simple steps to get it taken care of. Unfortunately, no one’s time in this life is guaranteed, so it simply makes good sense to take care of these details as soon as possible.

Let’s examine a few estate planning basics, so you can begin to take these first essential steps:

Make Your Wishes Known – Create a Will

Regardless of your net worth, a will helps prevent hurt feelings and legal hassles after your death. If you have an estate to pass on to your family, a will clearly designates where you’d like money, property, and other assets to be distributed. If your net worth is smaller, a will still designates who you’d like to be in charge of handling your affairs after you’ve passed and helps eliminate legal issues with various governing bodies. Without a will, settling your affairs becomes much more difficult for your surviving family members. As you consider the steps of estate planning, your first move should be to hire an attorney and create a basic will. This simple action will make managing logistics far easier for your surviving family members.

Why You Need a Living Will or Healthcare Proxy

As you plan your estate, you’ll also want to designate a healthcare proxy or create a living will. An attorney or hospital worker can help you create these documents and will work with you to ensure that what you draw up is legally binding in your state. A living will simply states your advance directives with regards to your health — what you want to happen if you are unable to make a decision for yourself, if you want to be resuscitated if your life is in danger, and who is authorized to make decisions on your behalf. If you are unsure that your family members will make the choices you’d want them to, or if you don’t have a next of kin to make these decisions for you, drawing up these documents becomes especially important.

Use a Trust for More Complex Estate Planning

If you have a complex family, a large amount of money or property to distribute, or other complicating factors, you may want to utilize a trust for your estate planning. A trust simply designates a trusted third party such as an attorney, impartial family member, or spouse to handle your assets after your death. Trusts are not only for the wealthy, contrary to popular belief. If you have minor children and want to leave assets in their name that are managed for them, or if you are concerned about your estate going through the probate process and want to skip it entirely, a trust is a good option. Consult your attorney for additional details about how to handle these details in your state.

When you’re ready to begin the estate planning process, consult an attorney in your area. Their practice can educate you about estate planning basics in your area so that you can be sure your affairs are handled correctly.

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