5 Tips - Do I need a Will or Living Trust?

Thomas Glenn Martin

Written by  Pro

Estate Planning Attorney

Contributor Level 11

Posted about 4 years ago. 1 helpful vote

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1. Take an inventory of your assets and liabilities

o Make a list of all of your assets. Remember to include any insurance policies, real estate, retirement accounts, and any other investments. o Make a list of all your liabilities. Your liabilities are paid at your death.

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2. Consider discussing your estate plan with your heirs

Having a discussion with your heirs will help clear up your intentions regarding your wishes. It will also help to prevent future conflicts after your death.

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3. Be smart with your money, lose less of it in taxes

o You may leave money to your spouse tax free, but you will increase your spouse's estate taxes o Using the federal estate tax exemption, you may leave a certain amount to your heirs without the money being taxed by the federal government. o If you choose to reduce your estate before your death by giving gifts, you may give tax free a certain amount a year to individuals. Also, you may pay an institution directly for the education or medical expenses of another.

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4. Remember to provide for your minor children

o If both parents of your children die, the court will decide who becomes guardian of your children unless you provide for their guardianship. o Choose a guardian for your children. Instead of designating both people of a couple, consider designating only one person of the couple in case they separate in the future. o For checks and balances, choose a financial trustee for your minor children. The trustee should be different from the guardian.

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5. Review your plan periodically

o You should review your estate plan after any life change such as death of a spouse, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, change of domicile, marriage, etc. o You should also review your estate plan every few years even without a life change because your state laws may have changed.

Additional Resources

Foresight Legal Group

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