Since no two people are the same, the approach you take to creating your first estate plan will not be identical to anyone else’s. The most important thing to remember is that you should take action as soon as possible. Drafting a comprehensive estate plan can give both you and your loved ones peace of mind — and there’s nothing more valuable than that.

Below are some simple steps for creating your first estate plan.

Write — and sign — a will

Once you create an estate plan, it’s easy to assume that you can keep it the same for the rest of your life.

While you hope this happens, there is no way of knowing for sure what the future will bring. You must realize that changes to your estate plan are necessary every now and again. If the time comes, don’t hesitate to take immediate action, just as you did when creating your estate plan in the first place.

Reasons to update your estate plan

Estate planning early in your life is not the same as estate planning later in life. For example, there is a big difference between creating your first estate plan in your 20s and altering your plan when you reach your 60s or 70s.

As you age, you may find it more difficult to think about estate planning. Even if this is challenging for you, it’s important to take the right steps at the right time. You don’t want to find yourself in a bad spot, such as falling ill before you have everything in order.

Here are a handful of estate planning tips to follow later in life:

As soon as one begins looking into estate planning and creating a plan to leave property to heirs and beneficiaries, it doesn’t take long to run up against the looming possibility of probate. When an estate passes through probate, the state assumes an individual’s estate and distributes it, but at great potential expense to the value of the estate and significantly increasing the amount of time that beneficiaries must wait to receive anything.

For many individuals, estate planning focuses on circumventing the probate process entirely or working to reduce the portion of one’s estate that the process affects and the amount of time it takes to resolve the matter. While avoiding probate is not always possible, it is generally better for all parties involved for anyone with significant assets to consider how they might deal with probate before the state steps in.

If you believe that your estate may have to pass through probate, it is wise to address this issue as soon as you can, with great attention to detail. You may find that you have more legal tools and opportunities available than you realize to protect your estate and your interests.

There are many different challenging situations that come up when you are creating an estate plan. For adults who haven’t had children, there are some unique obstacles that must be faced. In many cases, these individuals might think that they don’t need an estate plan, but this is far from the truth.

All adults need an estate plan. Here are some important considerations for people who don’t have any children who can benefit from the transfer of assets after you die:

You have options for heirs

Throughout our combined years of practice, we have found that many people still come to us with misconceptions about how trusts function. Some believe that trusts are only for the wealthy or that a simple will can meet their estate planning needs. While both of these may be true to an extent, trusts can do much more than many people realize.

Here are three ways that a person of any financial background can benefit from a revocable living trust

Probate Avoidance

Every adult should have a will, even if only to make end of life wishes clear. However, merely having a will does not offer the full range of benefits that a person can enjoy. It is also important to keep a will updated regularly to address any life changes that may affect the will.

If you recently experienced a significant life event and already have a valid will, you should review the document to make sure that all of the information within it and the wishes that you lay out remain relevant to your circumstances. If you do not, you may find that your will creates conflicts for your loved ones and beneficiaries after you pass away.

It is always wise to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you assess your circumstances and keep your will updated and comprehensive. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you about potential conflicts that your will may create for others, as well as help you protect your own interests.

It doesn’t matter if you’re creating your first estate plan or reviewing something you already have in place, you should do whatever it takes to make all the right decisions.

One mistake, even if it seems inconsequential, can have a negative impact on you and/or your loved ones.

No two people take the exact same approach to estate planning, so you can’t follow in another’s footsteps. You need to pave your own path to ensure that your plan is exactly what you want it to be.

If you’re planning to have a baby, then you also need to have a will. The most important reason why relates to the unlikely event that you and the other parent die. A last will and testament will dictate who shall serve as the guardians of your children if you and the other parent of your child are no longer able.

In addition to indicating who will be the guardian of your child in the case of incapacitation or death, wills offer other important benefits to parents.

Other arguments for parents to write a will

Do you want to leave it all to your pet? It may surprise you that pets cannot own assets or inherit money. But you can appoint a caretaker to take on your pet’s ownership and maintenance needs if something happens to you by setting up a pet trust.

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust is a legal document that lays out your wishes for your family pet. The trust also sets aside money to be used for the needs of the pet. This enables you to have a say in what will happen to your pet if you become disabled, died or otherwise cannot take care of your animal.

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