But your work doesn’t stop there. Your will might address questions about what happens to your assets after your death, but it doesn’t do everything.
This is why you should have an estate plan that includes things such as a living will, power of attorney and health care power of attorney to ensure that you can still meet your medical and financial needs if you ever become incapacitated.
When you document how you want to disperse your assets, and how you wish to be cared for, you can save your loved ones a lot of money in court costs, legal fees and taxes. More importantly, you’ll be protecting them from the emotional burden of trying to figure out what you would have wanted.
Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider when you set up an estate plan:
1. Your children and grandchildren
Whether you have children, are expecting children, or have custody of your grandchildren, your estate plan will need to cover their care.
You’ll need to appoint a guardian to look after minor children and may also need to name a conservator who will manage the assets they’ll inherit when they become adults.
2. Estate taxes
The 2017 Trump tax cuts doubled the size of the federal estate tax exemption to $11.2 million for married couples, which means that if your estate is under that figure, you won’t have to pay federal taxes on it. But some states – Pennsylvania included – impose a state-level inheritance tax.
3. Probate issues
If you make an estate plan that includes a living trust, you can allow your heirs to reduce the amount of time they need to spend dealing with probate. Probate court is designed to settle people’s estates after their death, but it can be an expensive, time-consuming process.
But property passing through a living trust doesn’t need to go through probate and can be distributed after your death without the court’s involvement.
4. Estate planning in the digital age
What’s going to happen to your digital information after you die? We’re not talking so much about your Facebook password as much as we’re thinking of your online banking or investment information. Keep your passwords somewhere safe and make sure your power of attorney gives your designated agent access to these accounts.
Estate planning can be complicated. Newman Elder Law can help simplify it. Contact us to find out how we can help protect you and your family.