Estate planning is a crucial part of sound financial management. It is also a practical way to record your wishes, protect your assets, and provide for your loved ones.
All types of families can benefit from estate planning. No matter how much wealth you have, your loved ones deserve a clear estate plan to help them better cope with your incapacitation or death. There are many moving pieces in an estate plan, and figuring out how they all fit together on your own can be challenging. An estate planning law firm can help you learn how to create an estate plan and work with you to develop a plan that fits your needs. The attorneys at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S., have helped families throughout Tacoma plan for the future since 1977.
What Is an Estate Plan Blueprint?
An estate plan blueprint provides you with a personalized strategy to help you distribute your assets and make healthcare decisions for yourself in case of death or incapacity. The documents in an estate plan typically include a will, a trust, a power of attorney, and healthcare directives.
Having a blueprint for your estate plan can benefit you by:
- Protecting assets. An estate plan blueprint helps ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes after death.
- Honoring wishes. If you create an enforceable estate plan, your wishes for how your assets are to be distributed and how you want your loved ones to be cared for after your death will be honored.
- Reducing taxes and costs. Estate planning can help reduce taxes and the cost of probate, which can help your beneficiaries receive as much of their inheritances as possible rather than losing them to taxes and other costs.
- Providing for loved ones. An estate plan helps you ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your death, whether that means providing for their financial needs, medical care, or other needs through bequests or by creating a trust.
- Providing peace of mind. Having an estate plan in place can provide peace of mind because you know your family will be taken care of. It also helps eliminate uncertainty and can reduce the chance of costly probate disputes.
Estate planning works best when treated as an ongoing process. As your family grows and changes, you will want to review your estate plan to make sure it reflects any changes in your life. As the law changes, you will want to revisit your estate plan to minimize taxes and the cost of probate.
How To Create an Estate Plan
Creating an estate plan is crucial to safeguarding your family’s financial future and passing on your property to loved ones. Making sure your family knows your wishes before an emergency happens can also provide much-needed clarity during difficult situations. There are a few steps you will want to take when crafting an estate plan.
Assess Your Assets and Liabilities
Take an inventory of all your assets, including real estate, personal property, financial accounts, and other investments. Additionally, make a list of your liabilities, such as loans and mortgages. This will give you a clear picture of your net worth and what you own.
Decide on Beneficiaries and an Executor
Choose the individuals or organizations you want to give assets. Be sure to update the named beneficiaries on your 401(k), IRA, or life insurance policy. Additionally, in your will, appoint an executor to manage the distribution process. We recommend informing your executor of the appointment and ensuring they understand the role’s responsibilities.
Choose a Will or Trust to Distribute Your Assets
When you leave a will, your named executor will submit your will to the probate court, which oversees the distribution process. You can also distribute property by funding a trust. When you place your property in trust, the trustee will distribute the property according to the trust document. Assets distributed through a trust do not pass through probate and may escape estate taxes. However, these benefits are only available to assets that are explicitly placed in a trust. Your attorney can help you make the best choice for your situation.
Designate Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directives
Consider creating a power of attorney so that a person you trust can handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. A general power of attorney allows the appointed person to access your bank accounts, pay your bills, and sell your property. Also, create a healthcare directive to specify your wishes for medical treatment. You can also appoint a healthcare proxy who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Seek Legal Advice from an Attorney
Estate planning can be complex, and it is best to seek the advice of an attorney. While online estate planning tools are popular, only an attorney can design an estate planning blueprint that is tailored to your unique situation. Your attorney can also help you navigate the legal requirements and ensure that you properly execute all of the documents that are a part of your estate plan.
Regular Review and Update
Estate planning is an ongoing process. You should regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in your assets, liabilities, or personal circumstances. Regularly reviewing and updating your plan helps you make sure that your loved ones are provided for.
Develop Your Estate Planning Blueprint with Blado Kiger Bolan
By following these steps and working with a reputable law firm, you can develop a comprehensive estate plan that protects your family’s future. At Blado Kiger Bolan, our clients have trusted us with their estate planning needs since 1977. We know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning, which is why we will take the time to get to know you and learn about your goals. Our experienced attorneys can help you with every step of the estate planning process, from crafting a will to making sure your plan remains compliant with Washington estate laws. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you preserve your family’s assets and legacy.