Whether you are a parent who just had your first child or someone focused on retiring, having an estate plan can be critical. However, too many people put off creating one because they are unsure of how to get started or overwhelmed by the process.
If this sounds like what you might be feeling when you think about creating an estate plan, then it can be helpful to know that there are ways to approach this process to make it a little easier and less intimidating.
- You can start with the basics. While there are numerous elements of an estate plan, from wills and trusts to guardianships and other designations, you can start by creating a basic estate plan. This can include a traditional will, power of attorney and health care directive, for example. These basic protections can provide a solid foundation upon which you can continue to build over time.
- You don't have to have all the answers. Don't let the fact that you don't know everything stop you from getting started. You don't have to know how to fund a specific trust or the logistics of passing specific property to someone just to create a will. When you are starting, you can focus on what you do know: who you want to protect, what you want or don't want in terms of medical care and who you want to act on your behalf if you cannot make legal, medical or financial decisions.
- There are people who can help. Estate planning is a legal process, and it can be very confusing for people who do not have a legal background. And just like you might rely on tax professionals to help you with your taxes or your doctor to treat a medical condition, you can work with a legal professional to help you navigate legal issues, including estate planning. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you avoid certain missteps and capitalize on opportunities you might have never known about otherwise.
You don't need to have all the answers or thoroughly understand the legalities of estate planning to create one. By starting with the basics and getting help from someone experienced in estate planning, you can create a valid, protective plan that gives you and your loved ones peace of mind.