Creating an estate plan can be an intimidating prospect for most people given the importance of the final product. It doesn’t help that most of the tools and strategies used in an estate plan are unfamiliar to the average person. One thing that can help make the estate planning process less daunting is narrowing your focus to the things most important in an initial estate plan. Toward that end, the Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC suggest five questions to ask yourself when creating your estate plan.
- Who do you want to provide for if something happens to you? This requires you to consider more than just how to distribute your estate assets upon your death. It also requires you to consider the possibility of your incapacity and how you will make sure your loved ones are financially secure if you become incapacitated. Estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney or revocable trust created as part of a larger incapacity planning component within your comprehensive estate plan can help ensure that your loved ones are provided for if anything happens to you.
- Whom do you trust to act in fiduciary roles within your estate plan? Even a basic estate plan will require you to appoint an Executor in a Last Will and Testament. Other fiduciary roles include things such as a Trustee who is responsible for overseeing the administration of a trust agreement and a Guardian for minor children. A common mistake people make when creating an estate plan is appointing someone close to them to a fiduciary role without taking the time to consider if that person has the skills, experience, and commitment necessary to successfully fulfill the role.
- Do you need more than a Will to distribute your assets? A Last Will and Testament can distribute your entire estate; however, there are several reasons why you might want to use one or more trusts to distribute most of your estate. If you have minor children, for example, who cannot inherit directly from your estate you will need to establish a trust to guard their inheritance. A trust may also be needed if you have a child with special needs, are married to a non-citizen, or simply want to stagger the inheritance you leave to beneficiaries.
- What can you do to help your estate avoid probate? Probate is the legal process that is typically required after someone dies. It can be a lengthy and costly process. It can also be stressful for your loved ones. Taking the time to incorporate probate avoidance tools and strategies in your estate plan benefits your loved ones and can prevent the loss of estate assets to the cost of probate. Something as simple as converting assets to non-probate assets that bypass probate can go a long way toward this goal.
- How can you prepare for your retirement years? You have likely been saving money for retirement since you started working. Amassing assets may not be enough to prepare you for your retirement years. Those very assets may be at risk if you need to qualify for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care during your Golden Years. You can protect those assets by including a Medicaid planning component in your estate plan. You should also ensure that your estate plan and retirement plan work in harmony with each other before you reach retirement age.
Contact Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning or you are ready to get started on your estate plan, contact the experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.