Sorting through a deceased person’s assets can be a difficult experience for the loved ones the individual leaves behind. Estate planning goes a long way toward ensuring this process proceeds as smoothly and stress-free as possible. An estate planning lawyer can help you make sure your final wishes are made clear after your passing, and the transition for your friends and family is eased. Here is a brief overview of what assets you may wish to include in your estate plan.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a detailed, legally-binding document that provides instructions as to how the individual wishes to distribute their assets once he or she either passes on or becomes incapacitated and is no longer capable of making competent decisions.
- Estate planning can save loved ones from the added duress of having to search the deceased’s personal effects for clues as to how they may have wanted their assets distributed and other decisions handled.
- Estate planning allows a person to specify any and all directives and the documents involved are legally-binding.
What Type of Assets Should Be Contained in an Estate Plan?
There are two main types of assets that are important to include in your estate plan. Though you may want to include other types as well, financial assets and property are two of the most common.
- Financial Assets
Anything monetarily-based is considered a financial asset. These include:
- Bank accounts.
- Savings accounts.
- Mutual Funds.
- Retirement Accounts.
An estate plan should include a list of these assets, the financial institutions in which they are secured, and the account numbers. It is also important to note owners of these assets are usually given the opportunity to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive these funds when the owner dies. Beneficiary designation avoids probate, a court-mandated examination of your will. An estate planning lawyer can work with you to maximize the tax advantages for your estate and heirs.
Our Sacramento estate planning lawyer can clarify which of your properties can be included in your estate but here’s a partial list:
- Your primary residential house and property.
- Any vehicles in your name. If there is a lien on a vehicle, the financial institution, company, or individual who has the lien may inherit the vehicle if the heir does not opt to pay off the loan’s balance.
- A commercial company that you own, the building owned by the company and any other assets that are not co-owned with other individuals or entities. If you are a co-owner, talk to an estate planning attorney about your legal options surrounding your company.
- Personal items or property, including sentimental items which may be of personal value more so than financial.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into Estate Law.