Whether you are old or young, married or single, drafting an estate plan is always something to consider. Old age should not be the situation that triggers such a step, because it is important to be prepared long before a person is old and vulnerable. Therefore, residents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere should understand ways they can make the estate planning process much easier to initiate and complete.
It should be noted the estate planning process does not require an individual to have a lot of assets or property to initiate the process. The overall goal of an estate plan is to create safeguards and to designate what would occur in the event of incapacitation or death. This could be accomplished through various documents, and individuals should consider the potential benefits of drafting a will, trusts and powers of attorney.
For some, the estate planning process means trying to avoid the probate process. Probate can be lengthy and costly, thus, by including an irrevocable trust and transferring your assets into it, these assets could be protected from probate. If a person carefully drafts their estate plan, it may be possible to ensure heirs will avoid the probate process altogether.
A will helps designate who gets what in the event of your death. It is important to note that certain retirement accounts and other accounts allow you to name a beneficiary. When going through the estate planning process, it is imperative to ensure that will designations do not interfere with beneficiary designations. This could result in some issues and even disputes.
No matter what documents you include in an estate plan, it is important to understand how they work and in what ways they could benefit you. Additionally, documents in an estate plan need to be updated. Whether it is due to a divorce, remarriage or the obtainment of new assets, it is important to continually update an estate plan as your life changes.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "5 essential steps of estate planning," Terry Savage, May 8, 2017