04 Dec Ten Estate Planning Tips You’ll Actually Use
Ten Estate Planning Tips You’ll Actually Use
If you don’t have an estate plan yet, you’re probably wondering where to begin. Estate planning is often a complicated process, and every person’s situation is unique, so a little guidance goes a long way. Here are ten tips from our experts to help you get started.
1: Start Early
Every adult needs an estate plan, even if there’s only one other document in it besides your will. If you’re over 18 and you haven’t started your estate plan yet, now’s the time to begin. Estate planning covers far more than who inherits your property—it can help you protect yourself and your assets during your lifetime, too.
2: Write Your Will and Get It Witnessed
A will is only legal in Arizona when it’s been signed by two witnesses, and there are some very specific witness requirements. If you consult an estate planning attorney, they can make sure your will is valid and even witness it for you.
3: Separate Your Business and Personal Assets
If you own a business or rental properties, it’s wise to keep them separate from your personal assets. An estate planning attorney can help you set up a trust or an LLC to protect your personal property from things like bankruptcies and lawsuits.
4: Secure Your Digital Assets
You probably have more digital assets than you realize. The average person has at least 100 different accounts with password protection, for everything from social media to bank accounts. A digital vault can securely store your photos, videos, documents, and passwords as well. It keeps all your information in one place, making it easier for your executor to carry out their duties.
5: Appoint a Guardian for Your Children
If you have any children under the age of 18, one of the most important things you need to do is appoint a guardian in your will. If you don’t, and there is no other surviving parent, it will be up to the court to decide who their guardian will be.
6: Set Up a Pet Trust
Pets are part of the family, too. But if anything happens to you, who will take care of your pets? You can make sure they get the loving care they’re used to by appointing a caregiver and setting up a pet trust to fund their care.
7: Record the History of Your Family Heirlooms
Every heirloom has a story behind it, and that’s what makes it special. To anyone else, an heirloom is only an object. If you intend to pass one down to future generations, make sure to record its story and include as many details as you can.
8: Make Updates Regularly
Creating an estate plan isn’t a one-and-done type of situation. You’ll need to review it with your estate planner every few years to check that it’s still up-to-date and legally valid. You might also need to make updates if your marital status changes, if your family grows, or if you acquire more property.
9: Consider Appointing a Medical POA
A medical power of attorney gives your trusted representative the legal right to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you have strong opinions about medical care, an advance directive can help make sure that your wishes are respected during your lifetime.
10: Don’t Do It Yourself
Unless you’re a legal expert, DIY estate planning is always a mistake. It’s far too easy to forget a crucial piece of information that could invalidate your will and jeopardize your entire estate. Don’t put your trust in online forms or AI-generated wills—always consult an estate planning attorney.
Meet with a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney
Our family firm has been in the estate planning business for over 40 years. You can trust us to get every detail right, no matter how complicated your situation is. Estate planning is the best way to protect your assets, yourself, and your loved ones. Contact Phelps LaClair today to request a free consultation.