Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Handling Finances: How to Plan For Your Estate




You don't need to own a lot of property or have a great deal of money to need an estate plan. In fact, if your possessions are limited but those you want to give to are in serious need, you'll want a plan that will disperse your assets quickly. Making a list of what you want to accomplish, what you have, and how you want things parsed out is critical.

What's Your End Goal?


Do you have a charity or family member that holds your heart? Then you have a reason to create an estate plan. Carefully consider the people to whom you want to leave your hard-earned possessions and ready cash. 

While making this list, pay special attention to your remaining dependents, including pets. You want to know that if something happens to you, others are covered.

Define Your Assets


To start, make a list of all your bank accounts. What funds do they have, and where will this money go? Then, make a list of your possessions of value. This can be a home, a car, art, or jewelry.

If you own any of these things jointly, sit down with your spouse or partner, and define how you want these possessions to track. If you're married, generally your surviving spouse and offspring will immediately receive the assets. 

If you're divorced, there will likely be legal limitations to be overcome before your asset dispersion can be securely defined.

Stay aware of the laws in your state. Consider a conversation with a Los Angeles estate law firm to protect your California home and assets, for example, from probate or other asset-draining stages in dispersal.

Proper Valuation


Bank balances, retirement accounts, and other monies, stocks, and bonds are fairly straightforward as far as determining their value. However, real estate values change over time. 

Additionally, if you own art that you purchased early in the career of an artist, it may be worth much more as that artist builds a following.




Proper valuation of your assets is particularly important if you're splitting your estate between heirs upon your death. Hire a professional to give you a valuation on anything that may be of fluid value in the future, and get it reappraised in the event of a sizable market change.

Covering Your Assets


If you know that you're leaving behind someone who will need what you intend to give them, it's critical that you invest in the insurance you need to avoid end of life costs. 

A basic long-term care policy, taken out while you're hearty and healthy, can be of manageable cost as you age and make it possible to pass on your legacy.

Additionally, it's important to remember that it's not only age that can lead to needing long-term care. If you have children, it's crucial that you have a plan in place in case you are incapacitated by illness or injury.

Speeding Up the Process


Create vehicles in which to place your assets for long term needs. If the person you want to give to has special needs, consider setting up a special needs trust. Work with an attorney so you can be sure that your assets go in the right vehicle.



For example, if you have a dependent child who will always need support, the right trust will allow them to receive disability insurance as well as your contribution. 

The wrong trust will block them from receiving any disability until the trust has been completely wound down. Each state is different, so do this right the first time to protect your loved one.

Avoiding Probate


If you only have a will, chances are extremely good that your goods and monies will have to go through probate. Depending on the state you live in, avoiding probate will take multiple steps unless you have a surviving spouse. If you are divorced or your spouse has passed on, probate is likely the next step.

Probate is time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes costly. Don't rely on your will to protect your loved ones from this process, especially if they need those assets to thrive. Address this while you have the ability to make good decisions.

Nobody likes to think about estate planning, but it's an important part of your legacy that needs to be addressed. Do the right thing now to protect the people and causes you want to support in the future.





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