Whether you have minimal investments and an apparent heir or have accumulated a significant amount of wealth that you would like to distribute to your family or others, it is vital that you establish an estate plan. While singles and those without a lot of assets might think this unnecessary, doing so is an important part of protecting yourself, your assets and those you care about.
1. Decide on Who Inherits Your Assets After You Pass Away
The first thing you must do is decide how to distribute your assets. If you don’t have any family members, you can donate your assets among academic and charitable institutions. Make sure you are thorough in going through your finances as you work on this step.
2. Draft a Will or a Living Trust With the Help of an Attorney
Next, you need to draft the will legally and make sure you have followed the guidelines of your state. Additional protection in the form of a self-proving affidavit can further your proof if allowed in your area.
One of the things that you will have to be sure of is that you sign the will in front of two legal witnesses who can sign the document as well. If you don’t have at least this many signatures, it is possible for your will to be contested. Depending on the circumstances, your wishes could even be overturned because you lacked the appropriate validation for your will.
Whether your documentation involves a living trust or will doesn’t change the fact that your wishes must be found when necessary. You can store your will and other legal documentation in your home safe or have an attorney keep it for you. A bank safety deposit box is another option for helping ensure the security of these papers. No matter what you decide, make sure that your family and other appropriate parties know about the will and how to find it.
If you opt for a living trust instead of a will, you will be placing your assets into it and control them while you are still alive. Then, a person you have chosen will take over and handle the funds according to your wishes. When you do this, you will need to place all of the investments involved in the trust. The ownership of the assets will then be transferred from you to the trust.
3. Make Sure That Your Estate Planning Documents are Complete and Well-Organized
There are various legal documents involved with managing your trust. For instance, you should have a pour-over will that will ensure any assets you forget to transfer will be after you pass away. Make sure that you have everything well organized and documented as you go through your planning. Whether you opt for a trust or will, taking care of the matter now will ensure your finances are distributed the way you want.
4. Update and Review Your Estate Plan Regularly
Make sure that you add new properties to the trust and review your documentation regularly in either instance, so you never have to worry about your assets being eaten up in court fees. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with handling this important legal matter.
Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced Napa Valley Estate Planning Attorney
Celaya Law is an estate planning law firm in Napa, California. Attorney Anthony Celaya helps families in Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, and the surrounding areas with setting up wills and living trusts, special needs planning, asset protection, probate administration, business law, and retirement planning.
Schedule a planning session with our experienced Napa attorney today to learn how we can help you and your family: (707) 492-3112.