Like so many other areas of modern life, estate planning requires the knowledge and skill of a professional. Therefore, the most important step you can take in this process is choosing your estate planning attorney carefully, based on excellent credentials, testimonials, and personal recommendations. As you will see if you do careful research, in Southeastern Massachusetts or on Cape Cod, Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is a wise choice. Below are some things you should begin to think about once you make your appointment with us:
1. Itemizing Your Assets
You’ve probably heard a great deal about how important it is to protect your assets, but before you can work on protecting them, you have to know exactly what they are. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of:
- Your home and its most valuable contents (e.g. antiques, electronic equipment, collections or art, jewelry, and other collectibles)
- Your vehicles, boats or motorized scooters as well as cars and trucks
- Non-physical assets, such as brokerage accounts, IRAs or 401(k) plans, insurance policies, and bank accounts
- Your debts (mortgages, auto loans, lines of credit, credit card debt, personal loans)
As you do this, make sure to write down policy numbers and other identifying information.
2. Making a List of Organizations to Which You Belong
Groups like AARP, veterans’ associations, college alumni groups, as well as religious, political, or professional organizations you are a member of may provide low-cost or free life insurance benefits you should be aware of. You may also want to consider such groups for charitable contributions.
3. Consolidating Wherever Possible
As you take your inventory, you may find a stray bank account or a forgotten retirement account from an old job. By consulting with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys, you may be able to combine entities to simplify your recordkeeping and make certain your heirs receive all the benefits they are entitled to.
4. Thinking About How to Transfer Your Assets to Loved Ones Automatically
Our estate planning attorneys will be able to help you set up trusts to avoid probate and to serve a number of other purposes, such as allowing a special needs loved one to continue collecting government benefits while also receiving an indirect inheritance. We will also be able to help you arrange to have certain of your assets — e.g. bank accounts, individual brokerage accounts — designated as TOD (transfer on death). This, too, will permit close family members to avoid probate costs and delays.
5. Begin Thinking About the Big Decisions so You Won’t Be Overwhelmed
One of the reasons for careful estate planning is that you don’t want to make crucial decisions under pressure. With this in mind, it will help to spend a bit of time pondering the questions that our estate planning attorneys will ask such as:
- Who will be your beneficiaries?
- Who do you want to take care of your children if they are left parentless at a young age?
- Who will you choose to be your personal representative (executor)?
- Who do you want to make medical and financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated?
- What kind of life support treatment do you want to be administered at the end of your life?
As you consider your answers to these critical questions, you will be preparing to have successful meetings with us as we help you formulate essential legal documents like:
- Your will
- Trusts to protect your assets and for special purposes
- Your durable power of attorney
- Your medical power of attorney
- Your healthcare proxy
- Your living will
You can count on us to guide you through the process of estate planning in the most
caring, most efficient way possible.
When You Contact Surprenant & Beneski, You Can Trust Us To Be Thorough
Though it is smart to begin thinking about what your estate planning will cover before you begin, you needn’t worry about whether you will leave anything crucial out of your plan. It’s our job to make sure every single t is crossed and every i is dotted. We pride ourselves on being well-trained, conscientious, and detail-oriented. More than that, we take a deeply personal interest in making certain you and your family are secure.Posted in Estate Planning