IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BASICS – ESTATE PLANNING.
THE FOUNDATION OF ESTATE PLANNING.
Estate planning is a process that evolves over time and directly affects your family members, individuals who are connected to your family by marriage or business, charities, the next generation, skipping generations(s) in terms of a legacy. Estate planning cornerstones are assets (your property) and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets are recorded in as well as assets that are not publically recorded. Not only does estate planning focus on your assets, the needs of your immediate family, but also the medical care issues should you find yourself unable to provide you own care, either mentally and/or physically.
Estate Planning is a process, not an event. Estate Planning is constantly changing due to the enactment of new taxes and estate laws, changes in your life and life-style, sales and purchases of new assets and its related encumbrances and your age and health condition.
Some of the basic questions that you may want to begin thinking about are:
- How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime should you become unable to manage them yourself?
- When and under what circumstances it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime?
- How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death?
- How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself?
You may think that estate planning only involves the writing of a will. Estate planning, however, can also involve financial, tax, medical, business planning, and a legacy. A will is part of the planning process, but you will need other documents as well to fully address your estate planning needs. Remember, as people and assets and laws change, it may well be necessary to adjust your estate plan every so often to reflect those changes.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN YOUR ESTATE PLANNING?
The first of many issues to address in creating an evolving estate plan is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my assets, what is their approximate value and what jurisdiction are they located within?
- Whom do I want to receive those assets, when and what percentage?
- Who should manage those assets if I cannot—either during my lifetime or after my death?
- Who should be responsible for taking care of my minor children if I become unable to care for them myself?
- Who should make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare if I become unable to care for myself?
- What do I want done with my remains after I die and where would I want them buried, scattered, or otherwise laid to rest and who should be made aware of these wishes in whole or in part?
Generally, once you have seriously thought through the above questions and issues; then you are ready to seek the advice and services of an international estate planning lawyer with a heavy background in taxation and succession planning. Such a lawyer can help you create an estate plan, and advise you on such issues as taxes, title to assets and the management of your estate. The next in a series of discussions will address the differences in estate sizes, what you should include in your estate plan, do you need a will as well as the option to die without a will and its ramifications.