The easiest way to start your estate planning is to take the process step by step. When you're ready to begin, you'll want to establish a plan that helps your estate grow, to inventory your assets, and to meet with a lawyer to ensure you have followed all your state's requirements and regulations. Here's more information to help you begin.

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Prepare Your Estate for Growth

Estate planning is about much more than preparing for death. It also concerns how to prepare your estate so that it can grow or at least remain legally intact. It’s a good idea to look into setting up an emergency trust in which to put some money aside in case of unforeseen events and emergencies. Trusts are generally safer from taxes and generate more income than savings accounts do. However, because of the formalities and regulations governing trusts, you should consult a lawyer to determine whether a trust is best for you, particularly if you are in a state such as New York where failure to comply with even small details can result in a complete overturning of the trust, either during your lifetime or after death.

Inventory Your Assets To properly prepare planning your estate, you need to make a complete inventory of your valuable holdings. This includes your house, cars, and all personal possessions you consider valuable. Everything else can be taken care of in a catchall clause. When you are inventorying your assets, you should make note of what you want done with each item. If anything changes with time, you can update your inventory. A complete inventory will make things easier when you put the clauses into your Will or Trust.

Meet with a Lawyer

Finally, consult a lawyer. Estate laws change every few years and vary by state. More importantly, the location of your assets will determine the actual laws that apply, not your state of residence. This means that if you have a summer home in another state, that state's property disbursement and probate laws will apply. A licensed lawyer will know what questions to ask so that your assets can best be protected. And before meeting with a lawyer, consider the following questions so you can give the lawyer a better idea of what you want to accomplish.

  • Do you want your estate to grow and make money for you?
  • Do you want to minimize your tax liability?
  • Do you only want to guard your assets in case of accidental destruction or damage?
Be clear with the lawyer when you talk to him or her about your estate. Estate planning requires a clear understanding by all parties of what you’d like to accomplish. It will be much better for you and your family if you take care of your estate plan sooner rather than later.

Get started Visit our Estate Planning Center Get all the Estate Planning documents you need.

Get started Visit our Estate Planning Center Get all the Estate Planning documents you need.