An estate plan stands as the most efficient means to safeguard your assets and ensure their seamless transfer to your chosen beneficiaries, whether they are your loved ones or others. After you have finished crafting your initial estate plan, it is strongly recommended that you periodically revisit your estate planning documents, at a minimum of every five years, and especially after undergoing significant personal or financial life events. These events might include marriage or divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren, the acquisition or sale of substantial assets, or receiving a significant windfall. The following checklist provides guidance for both the initial and review stages of estate planning.
What Belongs on Your Estate Planning Checklist?
Key considerations for a comprehensive estate planning checklist encompass the following:
- Ensure completion of all pertinent estate planning documents aligned with your objectives. This typically entails drafting a last will and testament, possibly incorporating trust documents, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney/living will.
- Allocate specific personal property items of significant financial or sentimental worth, such as family photos, artwork, jewelry, or antiques, to designated recipients. A clear schedule within your will can prevent family disputes over these items.
- Establish bequests for minors under 18, placing these assets under the care of their parent, guardian, or a trustee until they attain legal adulthood.
- Decide on specific cash or asset gifts to be bestowed upon particular individuals, and address contingencies if these assets are no longer available at the time of your passing.
- Assess your estate’s value to gauge potential state or federal estate tax obligations, allowing for strategic estate planning aimed at minimizing the taxable estate upon your demise.
Choosing a Personal Representative
A pivotal aspect of estate planning involves the selection of the individual who will assume the role of personal representative, also known as an executor or administrator for your estate, or the trustee for any established trusts. Many individuals opt for family members as personal representatives or trustees, primarily due to their presumed avoidance of professional fees for estate or trust administration and their presumed familiarity with your estate planning preferences. Nevertheless, designating a family member can present certain challenges, including burdening them with estate administration during a period of mourning, embroiling them in potential family disputes concerning estate distribution, and selecting someone who may lack the requisite financial and legal expertise for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.
Depending on the potential for familial conflicts and the complexity of your assets, you might find it more prudent to designate an attorney, accountant, financial institution, or trust company as the personal representative or trustee. Naturally, this choice would entail the payment of professional fees. If, however, you opt for a family member, it is essential to choose someone you have complete trust in to manage your financial matters, as if they were operating your business while you are still alive.
Consult a Fort Lee, NJ Estate Planning Lawyer
You deserve the assurance that your loved ones will be well-cared for once you’ve passed. To secure the future of your close family members and other cherished individuals, it’s advisable to engage in a conversation with an estate planning attorney who can tailor their advice to your unique circumstances and financial status. The seasoned estate planning lawyers at the Choi Law Firm, serving clients in North Jersey encompassing Bergen County, Passaic County, and Essex County, as well as in New York, including Queens County, Nassau County, and NYC, are here to help. You can reach us at any time by calling 201-613-5557 or by completing our online contact form to arrange a private consultation. Our primary office is situated at 1372 Palisade Avenue, 2nd Floor, Fort Lee, NJ 07024, and we also maintain an office in Flushing, NY at 164-01 Northern Boulevard.
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