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Estate Planning 101

Did you know that each person has an estate? It’s the collection of everything you own— money, investments, property, and your other personal belongings. Estate planning ensures that your assets are correctly distributed when you pass away, but it also acts as a road map for your loved ones so that your final wishes are met.

With all the chaos going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing an estate plan may even bring you peace of mind during times of uncertainty. If you are taking the important step to create an estate plan, but you’re overwhelmed with where to begin, our team at Law Office of Alexandra White, PC is here to guide you.

Importance of Estate Planning

Understandably, end of life planning is not exactly something everyone wants to discuss, but having an estate plan is vital for you and your loved ones. When you pass away, your assets need to go somewhere, and an estate plan lays out who receives what. Equally as important, it establishes how your loved ones should care for you and your assets if you become incapacitated.

This is a task many put off until much later in life, but if there’s one thing that we can recommend, it is that it’s never too early to start planning.

A Comprehensive Estate Plan Should Include (among other things):

Last will and testament: An outline specifying how your assets and property are to be distributed. Your will can also designate a trusted guardian for minor children who will oversee assets on their behalf.

Living or revocable trust: Management of your assets while you are alive and names of the people who will receive your property when you pass. A trust can also be helpful with planning for incapacity.

Powers of attorney: The document that appoints who has the authority to make decisions on your behalf for financial, legal, and medical matters.

Advanced healthcare directive: Specifications of what type of medical care you wish to receive or not receive if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

The collection of these documents will make up your estate plan, but it’s beneficial to have a lawyer or financial professional to guide you through the process. We at Law Office of Alexandra White, PC will provide you with advice specific to your estate and unique situation.

4 Steps of Estate Planning

  1. Take inventory of all your assets. The best way to start estate planning is to create a list of everything you have. Include your bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, real estate property, businesses, personal property of value, digital assets (e.g., passwords), and debts that you owe on that list. Be sure to keep that list in a safe place that easily allows you to reference and update it.

  2. Create a plan. After recording all your assets, you can move forward with creating the plan. Begin thinking about who you want to pass things on to, and start looking for a lawyer specializing in estate planning. We’ll help you create an estate plan tailored to your unique circumstances, goals, and desires.

  3. Execute the plan. Sign the documents, keep them somewhere safe, and notify those included in your estate plan.

  4. Keep your plan up-to-date. Your estate plan can and should be reviewed periodically. Significant changes in your life, such as a divorce or the addition of a family member may require you to make adjustments.

The future is unpredictable, but you can take control back with an estate plan. It will help you feel confident about what lies ahead, especially knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that you will be leaving behind a legacy that you want. Our experienced estate planning attorney can help you explore your options and reach your goals.

To talk to our Colorado estate planning attorney, contact us at (303) 647-4245 and schedule your free consultation.