Estate planning is the process of making arrangements for the management and disposal of your assets after you pass. To make your plan foolproof, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Take inventory of all your assets
You should have an account of everything you own at all times. Know the fair market value of your assets, how you titled them (jointly or individually) and any outstanding debts or liabilities. Ignoring this crucial step will invalidate all the other aspects of your estate plan.
Assemble your estate planning team
There are people or entities that you must work with to ensure a smooth estate planning process. This includes an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, executors, trustees and any other trusted individuals who can help you make informed decisions.
Create your estate documents
The four basic estate planning documents you need include:
- A will
- Power of attorney documents
- Advance medical directives
A will is where you outline how you want your chosen executor to distribute your assets after you die. It also allows you to name guardians for any minor children or dependents. You can use trusts to protect and manage your assets for your loved ones while alive or after your demise. They also offer more privacy compared to wills, which have to go through probate court.
A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. An advance medical directive outlines your wishes for end-of-life care and appoints a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Regularly review and update your estate plan
Whenever there’s any change in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, birth or death in the family, it’s essential to review and update your estate plan. This ensures that your wishes are always up-to-date and reflect any new circumstances.
In the end, estate planning in Maryland is not merely a task to tick off your to-do list; it’s a thoughtful, continuous effort that empowers you to maintain control over your assets and ensure the well-being of those you cherish most. Remember that your estate plan is uniquely yours, designed to accommodate and adapt to the shifting tides of your life. Therefore, keeping it updated and relevant to your evolving circumstances is paramount.