Writing out your wishes for after you have departed can be one of the most difficult aspects of planning your estate. This process can be even more daunting if you are part of a blended family with numerous relatives at various stages of their lives. If you are beginning this process, here are some helpful ideas to make planning a bit easier.
Have a discussion with your spouse
A great way to start the estate planning process is to have a long and detailed discussion with your spouse. It is important to talk about how you would each prefer to distribute your assets should one or both of you perish.
If you have minor children either together or with a previous partner, establishing how custody and guardianship will work is also paramount. Throughout the process, reviewing any previous divorce decrees or orders may help you better plan how certain financial accounts such as retirement and life insurance have already been legally divided. This can help you determine if you need more insurance or if perhaps saving more money will be helpful should the unthinkable occur.
Consider using a trust
One of the best ways to ensure the respect of your final wishes is to establish a trust. A trust can take many forms, and the most common are a family trust or a marital trust. If you want to establish one, working with an estate planning lawyer can provide you guidance on this matter.
A family trust places assets into an account after the death of the first spouse. The spouse who survives and is the parent and guardian of the children will then have access to the trust and make a final determination on the division of assets.
A marital trust works slightly differently. It passes assets on to the surviving spouse. However, it will have already divided assets for the children or family members left behind, eliminating worries or confusion over the inheritance.
Estate planning is an important part of taking care of those you love. Working with an attorney to establish a plan for your assets may help you feel more secure in your family’s future after you are gone.