Estate Law Basics You Need to Know

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Estate planning is a step that you’ll want to take or help loved ones take so assets are distributed appropriately following your or their passing. It may be a little challenging to consider estate law and planning when you are healthy and young, but it’s a good idea to put your affairs in order early on so you don’t have to worry about what will happen to assets and debts late on.

It’s Important to Start Early

Estate planning may seem a little maudlin, but it’s far better to have the information prepared and accessible and not need access to it, than to suddenly need it and not have it. Not only is it a good idea to make a plan about where and how your assets will be distributed to ensure that the right people have access, but you’ll also make the process far easier by organizing your affairs, assets, debts, and loans in advance.

Don’t Leave It Up to the State

If you don’t set up a system for what happens to your estate, the state or governing agency will do so for you. That’s not usually in your best interest or the best interest of your dependents and beneficiaries. You run the risk of leaving your family in dire straits, even if you have sizeable assets, and if you have children under the age of eighteen, there’s the possibility of them ending up in court-appointed care, rather than with a loved one, so it’s best to begin planning early.

Plan For Taxes

Estate taxes can be very high and there are limits to what you are allowed to gift or donate before taxes are incurred. That’s why it’s important to start considering your planning in advance, because you can gift out assets early on and maximize the amount your beneficiaries are able to receive. The last thing you want to do is leave them with a large amount of tax debt, so it’s important to plan for tax costs early on.

Speak Up For Yourself

When planning out your estate, remember that it’s a conversation between you and your estate planner. Take the time to ask questions until you understand exactly what is expected of you currently and what will happen in the future. You want to leave the planner’s office knowing the next steps and feeling confident that the right people will have access to your assets, if necessary.

Update Regularly

Your life is going to change, and that means it’s important to update the information in your estate regularly. You’ll want to make certain that the beneficiaries are correct, that everyone involved in guardianship or asset-control is still capable and of sound mind to carry out the responsibilities, and that your recent asset acquisitions or changes are reflected in your plan. The earlier you begin your estate planning, the more often you’re going to need to update—and that’s a good thing.

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