10 Essential Estate Planning Steps for 2021

Tips 1&2- Prepare for Your Future by Drafting a Will and Selecting an Executor

Drafting a will is essential to the distribution of your assets upon your passing. This document gives you the ability to decide exactly how your estate will be managed upon your death, while also allowing you to decide who will have the responsibility of caring for your minor children. Having a will in place allows you to avoid the much dreaded probate process, which can take years to complete. Another benefit to having a will is that it will decrease your estate taxes, as the value of the goods you give to loved ones or to worthy charities will reduce the value of the estate taxes you are subject to paying. Based on life’s circumstances you are able to change your will in order to best adhere to these changes. Most importantly, drafting a will grants you the opportunity to ensure that your interests and wishes are followed through rather than having the court make decisions for you, which most likely will not reflect your personal interest or the interest of your loved ones. Luckily, drafting a will allows you to select an executor to prevent this from happening. Your executor will act on your behalf once you have passed on, meaning this individual will be responsible for all of the legal matters in your name. This individual will be responsible for handling your personal financial affairs, including the distribution of your assets, thus you must select someone you trust to act in your best interest. Most people tend to select a spouse or child, however you are not limited to only family members. You are able to select a close friend or others to fill this role. You should select an individual that is in good health to ensure that they are able to complete all of the designated tasks. These are the preliminary steps that must be accomplished in order to proceed to the following steps in the Estate Planning Process.

Essential Estate Planning Tips for the Upcoming New Year 10 Essential Estate Planning Tips for 2021

Tips 3&4- Creating a Living Trust and Selecting a Financial Power of Attorney

A living trust is imperative as it positions all of your assets into one legal document for you to use during your lifetime. If you name yourself as a trustee you will be able to manage your trust and make any changes you believe are necessary if your trust is revocable. You will have the ability to distribute your assets to the designated beneficiaries without embarking upon the lengthy probate process. In the case that you become incapacitated and are unable to care for your own assets, this document allows you to appoint another individual to make decisions on your behalf. You may include your estates, cars, bank accounts, as well as other assets within this trust while ensuring that your wishes regarding these assets will be met even in the case of incapacitation or death. Once you have placed all of your assets in the trust, it is essential that you select a financial power of attorney. This document gives the agent you selected the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. The individual creating the financial power of attorney is considered the principle and the person that individual selects is considered the agent. This document is especially beneficial in the case of a medical emergency, for while you are working on improving your health, your agent is working on paying your rent, bills, etc. It is possible to make your power of attorney active immediately, meaning the genet has the ability of making financial decisions for you even if you are not incapacitated and are still alive. This will allow your spouse as the selected agent to make decisions while you are away or are medically unwell. You also have the ability to make your power of attorney effective upon the case of a specific event taking place. This option makes you responsible for making all of the financial decisions yourself until you are physically unable to do so. These financial documents are key to ensuring that your assets are handled exactly in the manner you would want them to be handled, while giving you financial independence for as long as possible.

 Tips 5&6- Completing the Healthcare Power of Attorney Document as soon as possible and Naming an Agent for this Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney allows you to select an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf. This document grants that individual the ability to decide which medical facilities would best benefit you in the case that you are unable to make that decision yourself. This individual can also participate in the process of selecting doctors and treatment plans in the case that you fall ill. This document is extremely imperative when it concerns making decisions about life support, resuscitation, and end of life plans. When selecting a healthcare power of attorney agent be sure to select an individual that you trust to handle your health. There is nothing more important than your overall well being, therefore, you should select someone who knows your medical history and would be able to make the most effective decisions concerning your health when put on the spot. Hopefully you will never be in a position where an individual will have to make a life saving decision on your behalf. However, we cannot predict the future and it is better to be prepared for anything than to try and make decisions on the spot. Once you have named an agent for your healthcare power of attorney, you are guaranteed that no matter what challenge life throws at you, you are well prepared for the future.

Tips 7&8- Selecting Beneficiaries and Creating a Letter of Intent

Selecting beneficiaries is extremely important in regards to the estate planning process, as the individuals you select are the ones that benefit from the distribution of your assets. If you fail to select beneficiaries, then the court will make the decision on your behalf. This implies that the court may select individuals who you did not want to give some of your assets to due to personal relations. It may also imply that certain individuals you actually wanted to distribute your assets to end up not receiving them because the court did not select them as beneficiaries. Once you have decided on your beneficiaries, you should create a letter of intent. This document entails exactly what you would like done on your behalf once you have passed. The letter of intent is given to your selected beneficiaries and they are responsible for completing the specified requests made in the document, such as specific funeral plans. It is essential to making the probate judge aware of your plans, in the case that you do embark upon the probate process. This document is also a substitute for your will in the case that the will is deemed invalid. Therefore, the letter of intent demonstrates your exact interests and wishes when it pertains to the distribution of your assets to your selected beneficiaries.

Tips 9&10- Avoid being Pessimistic about Aging, while also taking the Essential Action of Planning for your Future

With the coming of a New Year, it is the perfect opportunity to make decisions concerning your future. With each year, we continue to gain wisdom as we age and live life to the fullest. However, while living our lives to the fullest, we must be prepared for life’s course to make its way. It is impossible to predict what the future holds, as evident by the Covid-19 Pandemic, but it is possible to start estate planning to better prepare for these unexpected events. In the effort to avoid the negative mindset of thinking about everything that could go wrong, we avoid creating wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc because we only wish for the best concerning our well being. This is a mistake and a mindset that must be avoided to ensure that you can continue thriving in life. The simple actions involved in estate planning only include a handful of legal documents and a minimal extent of time commitment, as we are all busy embarking upon our new journeys of 2021. With the guidance of an esteemed Estate Planning Attorney, the entire process will be quite simple, as the attorney will assist you in ensuring that all of your interests are met. The attorney will aid you in drafting a will, selecting an executor, naming beneficiaries, creating a living trust, selecting a power of attorney, and more. Making the decision not to procrastinate on the estate planning process could make all the difference, so take the opportunity today to reach out to an attorney and make the first steps on the path that leads to a secure and joyful future in the 2021 New Year.

For further Estate Planning inquiries please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2394 to best prepare for your future in selecting an attorney that works best for your needs.