A well-designed will and estate plan will ensure your memory and legacy carry on. But what, exactly, makes for a good estate plan? Are there some components that every estate plan should include? What benefits come from planning one's will and estate? Below are answers to these questions and more in a three-step guide to laying the groundwork for a sound future.
A 3-Step Guide to Designing a Good Estate Plan
1. Have a Comprehensive Understanding of Your Financial Affairs
You don't have to be a financial whiz, but you should have a realistic picture of your net worth. This will determine the type of estate planning that will be most helpful. Add up how much money you have in bank accounts, retirement savings, personal property, business interests, and real estate to come up with a general idea of your net worth. Once you have this figure and know where each amount comes from, you can explore all available will and estate options.
2. Start With a Will
Every strong estate plan starts with a will. This should be considered the basic blueprint for how assets are to be divided after your death. Essentially, any asset that is owned in your name only can be included in a will. Those items that are held jointly cannot be distributed to your heirs, as they automatically go to the person who shares ownership. But any personal monies or property that are in your name alone can be divided according to your wishes as stated in your will. Also, this is the document in which the signatory will name an executor to handle the administrative tasks of resolving the estate; for those with minor children, the will is the place to designate a guardian for the kids.
3. Consult an Estate Planning Attorney
If you have not done so by this point, it's time to consult an estate planning attorney. A lawyer will help you design a will and estate plan that best meets your needs. They will review your finances with you to find the most appropriate solutions. In addition to a will, an attorney will help identify other documents and safeguards that would work well in your specific situation. A living trust, for instance, is a smart choice for property owners to transfer ownership of real estate without the interference of the lengthy probate process; in North Carolina, probate is particularly involved, so this can be a wise step to take. But it's important to understand that you have options, and you deserve to explore each one.
These steps lay the foundation for a strong estate plan. Begin making the arrangements that best take care of you and your loved ones by contacting The Law Office of J. Baron Groshon. For nearly 30 years, Attorney Groshon has been serving Mecklenburg County, NC, in wills and estates, power of attorney, and bankruptcy cases. With offices in Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia, and Lake Norman (Cornelius), the firm is ready to help. Call (704) 342-2876 or visit them online to set up a consultation today.