Now that 2020 is here, it is a good time to assess your estate planning needs and ensure that your legacy and wealth is protected. At Gates Shields Ferguson Swall Hammond P.A., we are committed to providing clients throughout Kansas City with comprehensive legal services for a variety of estate planning matters. Whether you need assistance drafting your last will and testament or preparing your estate for the probate process, we are here to use our vast legal knowledge and experience to guide you and protect your best interests. Here are five things you need to do to ensure your estate is ready for the next decade.
Tip #1: Draft / Update Your Will
According to AARP, only 4 in 10 American adults have a will or living trust. However, as people get older they come to realize that having a comprehensive estate plan is crucial as you enter retirement age. In fact, 81% of people age 72 or older and 58% of people between the ages of 53 and 71 have already drafted a will. If you are like most Americans and don’t have a last will and testament, then you need to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what you want to include in your will and which beneficiaries are entitled to your assets.
Tip #2: Sign a Power of Attorney / Advance Directive
Do you know who will take care of you and make important decisions about your healthcare if you become incapacitated? With a durable power of attorney or an advance directive for health care, you can feel confident knowing your estate is in hands you trust if you are ever seriously injured or ill and unable to communicate your wishes.
Tip #3: Eliminate or Avoid Estate Taxes
Estate tax laws sometimes change, which is why you should consult with an attorney to see if any new laws will impact the amount of estate taxes you might be liable for. We can see which types of charitable distributions and savings accounts will help you minimize or avoid estate taxes. Although gifting can be a smart way to reduce the size of your estate, you should have your plan assessed by an experienced lawyer to make sure it is in your best financial interests.
Tip #4: Check Your Beneficiaries
If you already have an estate, you should go back and take another look at it to see if the beneficiaries are still the people you want to inherit your estate. If the relationships with your beneficiaries have changed over the last year, then now is the time to make the necessary changes that will ensure your assets go to people you trust.
Tip #5: Make an Inventory of Your Assets
Do your beneficiaries know where to find all of your assets and important documents after you die? One of the best ways you can help your representatives administer your estate is to keep an organized inventory of all your assets and their locations. You should include the following in your inventory:
- Insurance policies
- Bank and savings accounts
- Cars you own
- Personal effects
- Sentimental belongings
Do you have more questions about estate planning? Then get in touch with our dedicated lawyers at Gates Shields to discuss your situation so we can find the right legal solutions for you. Schedule a consultation today.