When you think about estate planning, you probably look into the usual topics. Do you need a will? What kind of trust could you benefit from? How do you want to pass on your assets?
Of course, it’s helpful to think about these things, but to try to use a standard document or template to draw up your estate plan could lead to trouble.
When you put together a solid estate plan, you need to consider many factors such as:
- Where you live and the specific state laws that apply to you
- Your level of wealth and if estate taxes could apply to you
- If you want to qualify for Medicaid
- Long-term care planning issues
- Your beneficiaries and their wishes
- Your preferences for health care
These and other factors make a difference in what you need in your estate plan and how you can best protect yourself.
Just having a will isn’t enough
While a basic will does provide some protections and lets you create guidelines for the people you care about, it may not be as helpful as you’d think.
A will is helpful, but it doesn’t create a perfect scenario for you. It is protective and keeps your assets out of probate court, but if you miss any, your family could face extra time in court as they try to work out where your belongings are and how they should be distributed.
A good estate plan covers more bases than a will. It will go over things like your health and what to do if you cannot make decisions for yourself any longer. It will assign people to help take care of your finances or medical decisions if you’re incapacitated and make sure an executor is selected. You’ll get a say in what happens to your children or pets if you pass away, too.
No two estate plans are the same because you’re the only person living your life. While many estate plans have similar features, the ones that you should have in your case will vary based on the above factors and more. It’s valuable to look into a full estate plan to help protect your best interests.