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9 Steps for Proper Estate Planning

Posted by Gregory Poulos | Jul 21, 2020 | 6 Comments

No matter how large or small your estate, your assets and family should be protected when you die. Creating a proper estate plan is vital for that eventuality. Here are some easy steps you can take to ensure your estate plan is in place and your assets will be protected and passed on appropriately. Plus, you and your family will have peace of mind.

1. Create a Basic Estate Plan

An estate plan should include a will, assignment of powers of attorney, a living will (medical power of attorney), and for some people, a trust might also make sense.

2. Take Inventory of Your Assets

Create a list of your investments, retirement savings, real estate, business interests, insurance policies, and property assets. Figure out which family members and friends you want to inherit each asset.

3. Create a Will

Proper estate planning starts with a will. This document tells your family and friends how you want your assets to be distributed when you die. This is an important document if you have young children because you will name guardians for them here.

4. Determine If You Need a Trust

You may require more than just a will to protect your assets. Trusts allow you to put conditions upon how and when your assets will be distributed. For example, a child might receive maintenance fees until the age of 30, when he or she will inherit the management of the trust.

5. Discuss the Plan

Be sure your heirs understand the estate plan. This may help prevent disputes or confusion later on.

6. Be Aware of Federal Estate Tax Exemptions

In 2020, estates under $11.18 million for singles and $22.36 for couples were exempt from the tax. Amounts above that are taxed up to a top rate of 40%.

7. Tactics

While your proper estate planning may allow you to leave all your assets to your spouse tax free, this may not be your best option. It could mean your children will likely play more when you spouse dies, and in many cases, it just defers the decisions about inheritance and distribution of assets.

8. Tax-free Gifts

Take advantage of tax-free gifts. You may give up to $15,000 a year to an individual (or $30,000 if you're married and giving the gift with your spouse). You may also pay an unlimited amount of medical and education bills for someone if you pay the expenses directly to the institutions where they were incurred.

9. Charitable giving

A donation or charitable gift fund or community foundation can be created that will invest your funds and allow distributions to various charities each year.

Questions about Proper Estate Planning?

Armed with this information, you know what you need for proper estate planning. However, knowing is different from building the right plan. Don't go it alone and risk forgetting an important aspect that will leave your family and heirs in a bind. Instead, trust the professionals at Poulos Law Firm. Schedule your appointment now to learn more.

About the Author

Gregory Poulos

Meet Greg PoulosAn Experienced Estate Planning & Business Attorney serving the Phoenix AreaGregory Poulos counsels clients on the best strategies for accomplishing their estate planning and business goals. Greg starts by “Putting His Clients at Legal Ease” so that they understand the legal issues...


Gregory Poulos Reply

Posted Apr 19, 2022 at 08:10:06

Thank you for your kind comment. Whether a will or a trust, your uncle is being wise to put an estate plan in place.

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Posted May 22, 2022 at 02:00:39

I appreciate when you said that a will is the foundation of proper estate planning. My uncle just bought some new houses and he wants to hire an estate lawyer for drafting a will. Thanks for all the information on proper estate planning and estate lawyers and I will be sure to forward your blog to my uncle!

Gregory Poulos Reply

Posted May 22, 2022 at 08:38:18

Thank you for your kind words. I wish you and your uncle the best.

Lily Reply

Posted Sep 08, 2023 at 08:02:35

My spouse and I have been discussing our goals for the future and how we want to safeguard our possessions and legacy. We’re looking for an estate lawyer to assist us in putting up a sound strategy and ensuring that, when the time comes, our desires are carried out without incident. We’ll make a list of your financial holdings, including your stocks, bonds, and retirement funds, as well as your homes, businesses, insurance policies, and other real estate, and we’ll decide which members of your family and friends should inherit each item.

Clare Martin Reply

Posted Sep 13, 2023 at 23:24:20

It was a useful tip when you told us to take an inventory of our assets first when we are preparing to make an estate plan, which should include our investments, retirement savings, real estate, business interests, insurance policies, and property assets since these will be included in the will later on. I bought a new residential property in Reading a few weeks ago, so I was thinking it might be time to prepare my estate plan as well. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind while I look for a reliable estate planning lawyer working in Reading to hire for my estate plan drafting soon.

Elle Jones Reply

Posted Dec 02, 2023 at 06:38:01

I appreciate what you said regarding how a will serves as the cornerstone of sound estate planning. After purchasing some new homes, my uncle wants to hire an estate lawyer to draft his will. I appreciate you providing me with so much information about estate planning and estate attorneys. I will make sure to forward your blog to my uncle.

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