When you are thinking about the future, it can be easy to put off estate planning and dismiss it as something to deal with later. This is the mistake many people make and consequently end up leaving their family to navigate the complexities of probate and property division without any guidance. Planning your estate is not just for your own benefit — it is the best way to provide security for your family.
According to USA Today, 64 percent of Americans do not have a will or trust established. It is imperative that all adults invest in their family’s future by planning their estate, but more importantly, you should set specific goals while doing so. The following are three major ones to consider.
1. Review and make necessary updates
If you are one of the few who has actually undertaken estate planning in the form of a trust or will, you may think your work is done. On the contrary, you should regularly review and update your plans as necessary. Each passing year likely brings about life changes — new grandkids, fluctuating assets or retirement — so your will or trust should always reflect those changes.
2. Find and use all exemptions
Sometimes, there are exemptions available to the regularly applicable estate tax. These may exist at either the state or federal level, allowing you to leave up to the specified amount to your heirs without any taxation penalties. The limits change from year to year, so it is important to take advantage of current exemptions before they decrease.
3. Talk to your family about your estate plan
In addition to establishing your estate plan, it is important to discuss it with your kids, spouse or other beneficiaries. The objective of any will or trust is to minimize the stress of property division and ensure your loved ones are taken care of. Communicating and explaining your estate is an important part of this process.