By Michael Longsdon, Elderfreedom.net

Photo via Pixabay by BookBabe

Estate planning can be an overwhelming undertaking, but it’s absolutely necessary for many seniors who want to make sure their affairs are in order. These days, more and more people are finding that their retirement funds aren’t stretching as far as they’d planned for, and the prospect of leaving behind a home that isn’t paid off or will be stuck in probate along with the rest of the estate is stressful.

Because every state has different laws when it comes to property and the transfer of it, you’ll want to be educated in exactly how it all works and what you need to prepare for. If possible, seek the counsel of an attorney who has experience in estate law, and communicate with your family members regarding what you’re planning and the role they’ll play. After all, this is about more than property and physical items; estate planning can also cover your wishes for care should you become sick and where you want to be laid to rest.

Here are a few of the best tips on how to plan for your estate.

Plan

Sit down with your closest family members or heirs and make out a list of all the things you’ll want to prepare for. If you haven’t made out a will, consult a lawyer and work out the details of your estate. This is imperative if you’re leaving anything to a family member or close family friend, and if you want to ensure that the process won’t go through a lengthy probate period–which involves the court overseeing how and when your directives will be carried out–make out a living trust.

It’s also important to look at your home and have an inspector check it out, as well, to make sure there are no structural issues. If there are things that need to be updated, hiring a contractor to come in and update the home is hugely beneficial in increasing the equity in your home.

It’s also a good idea to go over the legalities of transferring property using quitclaim deeds, as these differ from state to state and you may need to talk about it with your heirs.

Power of attorney

Depending on what your health is like and how many family members you have living close by, you may need to consider appointing a power of attorney. This can be a spouse or partner or a close relative who can handle the task of being responsible for your finances and business decisions, including real estate. This person will also be responsible for enforcing your directives should you be hospitalized or unable to make your own decisions regarding health care.

Update retirement plans

If you signed up for your retirement plan years ago or made beneficiary decisions and haven’t updated them in a while, it’s a good idea to go over them now and make sure everything is as you want it. Death or divorce in the family could change things, so take steps to ensure your beneficiaries are covered.

Look into estate taxes

Different states have varying tax guidelines, so do some research into how much you can leave a beneficiary without owing tax or paying a penalty.

Don’t forget the little things

Of course, you’ve covered your home and its furnishings in your estate plan, and you’ve decided who will have power of attorney if you can’t make decisions on your own. In other words, you’ve got the big things covered. But the more detail you can provide in your estate plan the better. For example, is there a certain facility you’d prefer to be taken to should you have to go to a nursing home? Do you have items in storage that need to be covered in your will? Are there any assets or items that you want to be sure go to charity after your passing? These are examples of important additional details that should be covered so that your estate is carried out as close to your wishes as possible.

Thinking about what to do in the event of your own death is an overwhelming process, so it’s best to sit down with your family to figure out the next steps rather than going through it alone. Talk about your desires and be willing to listen to feedback and ideas from your loved ones, because they may have genuine insights on how to go about it. Remember to plan ahead and think about where your heirs will be in five or ten years; will having a home to take care of be a hardship for them? If so, consider asking someone else to take over the financial aspect of things.

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