Estate planning is an important task and can seem overwhelming. Consider these four items when working with legal documents:
1. Hire an expert. It’s fine to draft your own estate-planning documents, and there are many online sources and estate-planning books to use. You can also borrow completed documents from friends to use as samples. However, it’s important to have an expert review the final documents to ensure everything is in order.
2. Tie your personal business to your estate plan. If you own a business, make sure to include it in your estate plan. Many family business problems can be solved by purchasing a life insurance policy to cover estate taxes or equalize the distribution to children who don’t work in the business.
3. Consider leaving money in a trust rather than a lump sum of cash. This allows you to transfer property to a trustee, who is bound by the agreement of the trust. The property is distributed as the agreement stipulates.
4. Keep your estate plan updated. Your estate plan should be updated each time the law changes or situations in your family change. When there are births or deaths that affect the beneficiaries, you should call your estate planner and have the changes made immediately. You should also consider this during a pregnancy so that you have the updates in place even before the birth.
For more information about estate planning, read the entire article at www.aarp.org/money/estate-planning/info-01-2011/4_costly_estate_planning_blunders.html.