Setting up a comprehensive estate plan is the key to easing the burden of your passing on your spouse or loved one. But above and beyond estate planning, there are three steps to take, in order to make sure you provide for their immediate needs upon your passing.
1. Keep enough money in an account to take care of immediate needs. If you don’t have a Living Trust, gaining access to property that you have left someone will take time; if the property is subject to probate, it can be tied up for several months, even years. Other alternatives are joint accounts or “transfer on death” accounts.
2. Determine the best way to hold title to your property, particularly when it comes to real estate. An estate planning attorney can advise you on the different forms of ownership available, as it varies between states, and detail the advantages and disadvantages of each. They can also advise how property will transfer under each form of ownership when you die.
3. Make sure your beneficiary forms for retirement accounts and life insurance policies are up to date with any life changes. Also make sure these accounts coordinate with the rest of your estate planning documents. For example: A will would not be used to leave the remainder of a retirement account to a loved one, these accounts transfer by the beneficiary designation.
An estate planning attorney can work with you to address specific needs you may have when it comes to taking care of your loved ones. He or she not only can ensure that your estate planning documents are legal and valid, but that your documents all coordinate to meet your estate planning goals and your loved one’s needs.