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Estate Planning Organization

The Importance of Preparedness: A Guide to Estate Planning

Estate Planning Guide

In estate planning, preparedness is a practice that can make all the difference for you and your loved ones. Beyond the Estate Plan understands the role that preparation plays. 

Let us delve into its importance, the risks associated with not preparing, and the timeliness of gathering the right estate planning documents.

An Overview of Estate Planning

Estate planning encompasses the strategic tasks to effectively oversee one’s fiscal affairs during incapacitation or following death. At its core, estate planning starts with crafting a will and/or trust documents, along with their respective guardians, and or beneficiaries Including charitable giving and your final plans (funeral or memorials). 

Alongside your will, other critical aspects include the following (which I highly recommend you discuss with your Estate Planning Attorney) :

  • Naming heirs, including charities or non-profits you wish to include as beneficiaries, naming an executor (also known as a personal representative).  

  • Selecting the guardians for your minor children or the dependent adults in your care.

  • Creating the appropriate trusts.

  • Making your final arrangements and funding them in advance if possible.

  • Creating a comprehensive inventory of your assets and possessions (with photos). This serves useful for estate purposes (which items each heir will receive and their provenance and value) and in the eventuality of any loss as proof for your insurance company.

  • Setting up a durable power of attorney (POA)

Many seek the expertise of attorneys specialized in estate law for a comprehensive plan. Moreover, completing an inventory of all of your possessions along with photos (especially of items of significant value) would be helpful to designate who will inherit which items of your personal property.

The Importance of Preparing for Estate Planning

Preparing for estate planning means putting your affairs in order even when there are no indicators of impending incapacitation or death. 

Here are a few reasons to prioritize preparation:

  • Control Over Medical and Financial Decisions: Estate planning is not exclusively about asset distribution; it also involves making crucial decisions regarding your health care and finances in case you become incapable of making those decisions yourself.

  • Protection of Beneficiaries: Proper estate planning helps protect your beneficiaries, especially minors or adults who might not be financially savvy or dependent adults you are responsible for.

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that your affairs are in order provides a profound sense of calmness for both you and your family.

Understanding the Risks of Being Unprepared

Estate Planning Risks

The risks of neglecting estate planning can have far-reaching consequences. Here are some of the most significant potential risks:

  • Family Disputes: Without a clear will or estate plan, disputes among family members about the distribution of assets are likely, leading to strained relationships or even lengthy legal battles that can deplete the estate’s value–sometimes the sentimental items like Christmas ornaments, favorite jewelry, or artwork–are the most fought over.

  • Asset Mismanagement: Without a designated executor or trust, your assets may not be managed according to your wishes. As such, there may be missed investment opportunities or rapid depletion of your estate’s value.

  • Guardianship Issues: Without a guardian for minor dependents, the court will decide who will take care of them. The court’s decision may not align with your preferences, potentially impacting your children’s well-being. Note that if it is left to the court, it can mean they would have to move to another town or state that you may not want for them because of the location of the court-selected guardian.

  • Increased Estate Taxes: Without proper planning, your estate may incur higher taxes, reducing the amount passed on to your heirs.

  • Delayed Distribution: Normally, Probate is the general administration of a deceased person's will or the estate of a deceased person without a will. In cases without a will, it will be a lengthy and much more complicated, and costly process, delaying your heirs' access to their inheritance.

The Timeliness of Gathering Information

Estate planning documents can pile up quickly, especially if you have multiple assets or complex financial matters. As such, it is best to start gathering information early on and update it regularly.

  • Legal Documents: These documents include your will, trust documents (if applicable), power of attorney forms, and any other legal contracts that affect your estate.

  • Financial Information: You will need a comprehensive list of your assets, accounts, debts, and insurance policies to ensure they are accounted for in your estate plan.

  • Family Information: It is vital to have up-to-date information about your family members, including their names, contact information, and relationships with you. This information will help determine who will inherit your assets and who may need special considerations or guardianship.

  • Healthcare Information: In case of incapacitation, having your medical history, current medications, and healthcare preferences on hand can help follow your wishes.

  • Digital Assets: The increasing use of technology requires you to create instructions for handling your digital assets. These digital assets may include social media accounts, online banking, and cryptocurrency.

Beyond the Estate Plan Framework

Estate Planning Benefits

Many individuals approach estate planning with a “set it and forget it” mentality. However, your personal and digital information is constantly evolving. Since estate planning is demanding, Beyond the Estate Plan empowers you with knowledge and resources.

Our estate planning guide helps you find, store, organize, and maintain your estate planning documents; vital contacts; digital assets; instructions; and medical, financial, and personal information. Get estate planning tips, checklists, and advice to make informed decisions.

Our estate planning tools go further, allowing you to provide your loved ones with precise, fail-proof information. Beyond the Estate Plan also offers a course for estate planning to help people gather the vital documents and details needed for meeting with their estate advisors.

Beyond the Estate Plan has already built a community of individuals looking to stay on top of their estate plans. Estate planning can be overwhelming; with us, you’ll have a dedicated community to share with and learn from.

The Takeaway

Preparedness is the cornerstone of effective estate planning. At Beyond the Estate Plan, we are committed to guiding you through estate organizing with care and expertise. Join our community and start your estate planning journey today! Contact us for more information.

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Beyond the Estate Plan is the creation of Judith Guertin. Her passion is helping families organize and document their affairs to help everyone be prepared for the unexpected. Beyond The Estate Plan offers you the information you need to find, store, and locate your estate planning documentation, from a guide chocked full of checklists, documents, and advice, to helpful seminars, and even a membership community filled with others facing the same situations as you. Get as much or as little estate planning documentation help as you need with Beyond the Estate Plan and get peace of mind for you and your family.

Judith Guertin. Owner & Author

Judith Guertin is a renowned author, and a Professional Organizer and Productivity Specialist helping clients document, save, and share vital information. Her background as an occupational therapist and a professional organizer, allow her to share a wealth of knowledge about how to create and maintain order for everything in your life – including your estate plan. When tragedy struck her life with the unexpected loss of her mother in 2001, she found her calling to help others avoid the complications that can accompany a tragic loss through proper advanced planning.

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