Why is it important to have an estate plan?

Estate Planning, all-in-all, is an effort to protect assets that will be passed onto your loved ones. Formerly, estate planning was considered something only the wealthy needed. With generations passing, this is something much more tangible for the middle class citizen, and many need it. Here are 12 steps that you need to know for protecting your assets and building an estate plan for you and your loved one’s future.

1. Create A Will

In a will, you state who you want to inherit your property and name a guardian to care for the young children, should something happen to you, along with the other parent. You can find willmakers online that help you make a will for free.

2. Consider A Trust

If your property is held by you, your survivors won’t have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of probate court.

3. Make Health Care Directives

You can be protected by writing out your wishes should you become unable to make medical decisions on your own. (In some states, these documents are combined into one, called an advance health care directive.)

4. Create A Financial Power of Attorney.

With a durable power of attorney for finances,you can provide a person authority that is trusted to handle property and your finances should you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. The person you name to handle your finances is called your agent or attorney-in-fact (but doesn’t have to be an attorney).

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5. Protect Your Children’s Assets

You should name an adult to manage any money and property your minor children may inherit from you.

6. File Beneficiary Forms

Naming a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans makes the account automatically “payable on death” to your beneficiary and allows the funds to skip the probate process. In almost all states, you’ll be able to register your stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts to transfer to your own beneficiary upon your death.

7. Consider Life Insurance

When you yourself have young children or own a house, or you could possibly owe estate tax or significant debts when you die, life insurance might be a good idea. With Local Life Pro, we have agents nationwide in cities near you that can help you with estate planning. Build an estate plan with agents at no cost.

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8. Understand Estate Taxes

Most estates (more than 99.7%) won’t owe federal estate taxes. For deaths in 2016, the federal government will impose estate tax at your death only in case your taxable estate is worth more than $5.45 million. (This exemption amount rises each year to adjust for inflation.) Also, married couples can transfer up to twice the exempt amount tax-free, and all assets left to a spouse (as long as the spouse is a U.S. citizen) or tax-exempt charity are exempt from the tax.

9. Cover Funeral Expenses

Rather than the usual funeral prepayment plan, which might be unreliable, you may set up a payable-on-death account into it at your bank and deposit funds to pay for related expenses and your funeral.

10. Make Final Arrangements.

Make your wishes known regarding body and organ donation and disposition of your body – burial or cremation. With Local Life Pro, we have Burial Insurance Plans that can help with the expenses of this process. Find out more on our burial insurance page.

11. Protect Your Business

You ought to have a succession plan if you’re the sole owner of a business. You should possess a buyout agreement in the event that you own a business with others.

12. Store Your Documents

Your attorney-in-fact or your executor (the person you choose in your will to administer your property after you die) may need access to the following documents:
– will
– trusts
– insurance policies
– real estate deeds
– certificates for stocks, bonds, annuities
– information on bank accounts, mutual funds, and safe deposit boxes
– information on debts: credit cards, mortgages and loans, utilities, and unpaid taxes
– information on funeral prepayment plans, and any final arrangements instructions you have made.- information on debts: unpaid taxes, mortgages and loans, utilities, and credit cards
– information on funeral prepayment plans, and any final arrangements instructions you might have made.
– will
– trusts
– insurance policies

Find estate planning experts today with Local Life Pro

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