“Regardless of your age or financial circumstances, it is in your best interest to have an estate plan in place to dictate how your assets will be distributed upon your death, or used to care for you in case of illness or disability,” said Tina Portuondo, chair of the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law.
That’s why the section’s lawyers have created a website, www.estateplanhelp.org, which provides the information you need to begin.
The most basic piece of an estate plan—a will—can ensure your wishes are carried out and that your family is taken care of.
A few basics can get you started:
- Determine what assets and income you have. Do you own a home? How is it titled? Do you have personal insurance or retirement plans? Are your beneficiaries up-to-date on your IRA, 401(k) and life insurance?
- Who do you want to benefit from your estate? Have your family circumstances changed? Have you been through divorce? Do you have children? If they are minors, have you named someone to be their guardian? Does your will provide for those with special needs?
- How should your heirs receive their inheritance? Trusts can protect younger or frail family members by ensuring funds are there when needed for education, support or care.
We don’t like to talk about when we’ll be gone, but we all know death is a reality of life. Planning ahead for your family’s needs is critical to protecting them now and for the future.